By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– March is National Kidney Month.  Around 30 million Americans live with kidney disease and most are unaware they are ill.

It’s called ‘the silent killer’ because you generally don’t know you have it until it turns into kidney failure, which can be fatal.

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Kidney disease is generally caused by diabetes or high blood pressure. In the case of Zumba teacher Tisha Guthrie, in 2004 her juvenile type 1 diabetes caused her first to become legally blind and then to develop kidney failure.

“So many people are walking around one, at risk and two, living with kidney disease unbeknownst to them,” she said.

Guthrie eventually got a kidney transplant which has altered her life but not stopped her from living.

“I would say I value each day so much more than I ever thought that I ever would,” she added.

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Dr. Belinda Lee of Medstar Good Samaritan hospital says the only way to detect it, is to get an annual physical and have your kidneys tested.

“Because the most common causes are high blood pressure and diabetes, it’s important to get those two factors under control,” Dr. Lee said

“Love your kidney, love your kidney,” Guthrie said. “When you get up in the morning, treat it to a wonderful glass of water. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and just love your kidney. It works so hard for you.”

Learn more HERE.

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