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Manchin gives speech, blood during local stop

March 21, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Only a little blood was shed by West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin following an appearance Monday in Martinsburg to promote the benefits of preventive health for the state's residents.

Manchin was in the city to support an ongoing series of preventive health screenings that could indicate chronic kidney disease during an all-day Kidney Early Evaluation Program at West Virginia University Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center Eastern Division. After a brief speech, Manchin rolled up his shirt sleeves and demonstrated just how easy the process was.

"It's worth the effort to take care of (our health) now to prepare for tomorrow," Manchin said before his screening, which included a blood pressure check, having blood drawn and submitting a urine sample.

"We all have a responsibility to do everything we can to live a healthy life," he said.

It is estimated that 480,000 West Virginians - one in four -experience some form of kidney problems, said Rebecca Schmidt, WVU associate professor of medicine and chief of nephrology.

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"The problem with kidney disease is when you get symptoms, it's too late to do anything," said Schmidt, who called early screening essential. "You can't wait until you have symptoms to do anything."

Schmidt said indicators of kidney disease include high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

Manchin, who was awarded a special recognition by the Renal Physicians Association in Baltimore last week for his efforts in promoting kidney health, took the opportunity Monday to trumpet legislation passed last year by state lawmakers that returns physical education to West Virginia's schools and offers school children more than soft drinks and candy in school vending machines.

"I think if children learn at a young age that there are healthy choices, it'll carry on," said Manchin, adding improving children's health throughout the state is one of five promises that he hopes to leave as a mark of his time in office.

Other promises include ensuring that children have an adult caregiver and teaching them a marketable skill, he said.

The screenings, which began in November, run from noon to 6 p.m., said Jessica Gombar, regional manager of the National Kidney Foundation of Western Pennsylvania

The screening sessions also include opportunities for people who take prescription medicine to consult with a pharmacist.

Sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation, the screenings draw between 50 and 100 people at each location, with each screening lasting between half an hour to 45 minutes, Gombar said.

The next screening is scheduled for May 24 in Romney, W.Va.

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