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Miguel Vazquez, M.D. Answers Questions On Kidney Disease

Miguel Vazquez, M.D. Answers Questions On: Kidney Disease

Who’s at greatest risk for kidney disease?

People who have a family history of kidney disease, diabetes, or hypertension should be aware that they are at higher risk for kidney disease and should discuss getting checked for kidney health with their primary care physicians.

Historically, minorities are at higher risk for kidney disease, including African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians.

What should people at high risk for kidney disease do?

Know the status of their kidney function. Specifically, they should know their glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which is how well their kidneys are cleaning their blood, and whether they have abnormal protein in the urine.

If their primary care practitioner diagnoses them with chronic kidney or abnormal kidney function, that’s when they should come see us. The earlier we can intervene, the more likelihood we are to be successful with treatment.

For patients who are already diagnosed with end-stage renal disease or on dialysis, the earlier they can get a transplant, the better.

How has kidney transplant research translated to treatment at UT Southwestern?

Some of the immunology research we’ve engaged in here has been very effective. We’ve performed kidney transplants across positive cross matches. And we’ve been able to perform kidney transplants in high-risk immunologic recipients, carefully identifying antibodies that would carry a very high risk of rejection without study. That’s one of the areas where we have the expertise in-house to do things that not many others can.

We’re among the leaders in the area of end-stage kidney disease research in general. We’ve been able to test interventions to improve outcomes in vascular access for dialysis patients.

We’ve participated in several of the major trials in nephrology. Many of my colleagues have been active in other studies to identify the best ways to provide dialysis treatments and the best ways to prevent hypertension in patients with kidney disease.

What drew you to kidney disease and transplants as a specialty?

Nephrology (medical care that deals with kidneys) attracted me because I was interested in understanding how the human body can provide the appropriate environment for the body to function – eliminating waste, regulating volume.

I was also very interested in immunology, and transplantation is one of the most incredible examples of how the immune system can inform us on how to treat a patient.

Kidney transplantation was a perfect opportunity to combine the care of patients who have very serious medical problems with opportunities from research in basic and clinical immunology.

I didn’t know that I would go into kidney transplantation when I was doing my initial training. When I rotated into the kidney transplant service as a resident, I thought, “Wow. This is a perfect match."