When it comes to vital organs, Carol Kirila, DO, KCU associate professor of Internal Medicine, believes the kidneys deserve more respect.
“Kidneys are fascinating,” Kirila said.
Much of her career has been devoted to the two organs each the size of a fist, that have a bean named after them, but don’t get much attention. She says the kidneys are an organ many patients don’t know enough about. “Kidney disease is so silent and so forgotten. People don’t think about it and don’t know about it."
Kirila was diagnosed with a kidney health issue herself in her twenties. Thankfully, her issue fully resolved. And as she progressed through her residency training in internal medicine, a strong rotation in kidney health sealed her passion.
“The more I learned that we are not discovering the subtleties of illness and that we are not finding early kidney disease, much less preventing it, it really became a passion.”
She works on two fronts to improve kidney health. As a faculty member at Kansas City University, Kirila teaches medical students the importance of kidney health, noting that primary care physicians will have an opportunity to directly impact their patient’s overall wellbeing. “I want them to appreciate that kidneys can be an early way to detect other diseases with affordable testing as part of a screening exam.”
Equally valuable is the time Kirila devotes as a volunteer to the National Kidney Foundation, which directly impacts the health of patients. She currently serves as Chair of the Medical Advisory Board for the National Kidney Foundation of Western Missouri and Kansas. “I have taken care of many patients who had chronic kidney disease and who also had diabetes and hypertension that was newly diagnosed,” she said. “Those are the two top causes, but there are other causes of kidney disease and we need more patient education.”
Kirila, along with Megan Schultz, MPH, senior manager for population health partnerships with the National Kidney Foundation, will be educating members of the Missouri Society of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, in a webinar streaming live on Zoom March 27. Beyond the webinar, Kirila looks forward to continuing to advocate for kidney health in relation to health disparities, and education on social determinants of health. She remains determined to make sure the organ that has fascinated her for years finally get the respect and care it deserves.