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Working can benefit those suffering with a chronic illness

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Updated: 2/03 12:18 pm

(BPT) - No one needed to tell Houston's Robert Gandy that he would reap health and wellness benefits from continuing to work after he started dialysis four years ago.

For more than 42 years, Gandy has worked in the restaurant business. The thought of leaving the job he loves never crossed his mind when he started treatment for kidney failure - he would find a way to make dialysis fit with his work and his life.

"Going to my job takes me away from the fact that I have end stage renal disease (ESRD), because I'm absorbed in my work," says Gandy, an executive chef, proud grandfather and DaVita dialysis patient.

As Gandy discovered - and studies have proven - when patients continue working after they go on dialysis, it can help them feel healthier, happier and more financially secure. Nearly 50 percent of new ESRD patients are of working age and currently there are 430,000 people in the U.S. with end stage renal disease.

Individuals who work are more likely to receive a kidney transplant, according to a recent collaborative study from the University of New Hampshire. Those who work full-time are the most likely to be placed on the transplant waiting list and receive a kidney.

In addition, people on dialysis who keep their jobs are generally happier, the study found. Working patients tend to experience lower rates of depression, their survival rate is notably 6 percent better than those who are not working and overall they are less likely to be hospitalized, which can dramatically improve quality of life.

For individuals who have been diagnosed with ESRD, DaVita encourages them to:

* Get educated - Talk with their doctor and care team about any limitations. Sign up for a free Kidney Smart (SM) class to learn about kidney disease and taking control of their kidney health.

* Understand their treatment options and insurance benefits - Employer-provided insurance may offer additional coverage for transplants and better access to the care team of their choice.

* Inform others about their illness - Tell their family and friends to build their support network and find support online.

'Continuing to work can benefit chronically ill patients with extra income, a bigger support network and even a greater sense of purpose,' says Dr. Allen R. Nissenson, DaVita chief medical officer.

"Talk to your work to make sure dialysis fits in, so you put the least amount of stress upon yourself as possible," shares Gandy. "But get the information, process it and talk to your family."

For more information about living with kidney disease, visit DaVita.com/WorkingPatients or call (888) 405-8915.

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