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Five things you should know about your kidneys

Did you know that some people are born with one kidney? And that some of them will go on with life not being aware. For others, this can cause chronic health conditions that are linked to their kidney.  

Dr Camilla Eleuterio Rodriguez who is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Prince of Wales Hospital chatted to us about kidney health, her research projects and her career journey into nephrology. 

Dr Rodriguez is part of the Nephrology Department at POWH where we have worked closely with Professor Zoltan Endre in supporting research and innovation projects. One of our major achievements in medical funding includes the POWH Kidney Biobank. The biobank is the region’s first unique kidney biobank for acute and chronic kidney disease and idiopathic nephrotic syndrome. We were proud to provide funding for this innovative clinical centre, creating a space for the team to research new advances for the treatment and care of kidney patients across Australia.


POWHF: Please introduce yourself and explain your role at POWH?

Camilla: My name is Camilla Eleuterio Rodriguez. I’m a clinical nephrologist from Brazil, and I came to Australia in 2021 to work as a postdoctoral fellow in research. I’ve been working here in clinic and then across the nephrology department. My main role is doing research and I’m involved in three different research projects here at Prince of Wales Hospital. The first research project involves mainly working with people undergoing cardiac surgery because they have an increased risk of developing kidney injury after surgery. The second group of patients I work with are going through a kidney donation or kidney removal due to a diagnosis like kidney cancer. Patients in the third research project are undergoing kidney transplantation.


POWHF: What initially motivated you to pursue a career in medicine?

Camilla: I like to take care of people such as cooking for people and helping people. But I also like science. I’m interested in how the body works and I feel that the job in medicine helps link those two things together. Now, I’m in research, which is more related to science than to care, but I also get to enjoy the patient care part of it.  


POWHF: Can you please share a patient memory?

Camilla:  I do – I think I was trying to recruit a patient for one of our research studies for cardiac surgery. This study is not easy for them because we are offering a big pre-operative kidney assessment, and sometimes they must fast for a period, have a protein shake, have some blood and urine samples collected. It’s not hard, but it’s not easy either. It can be a challenging study for them to participate in.


There was a man who was 90 years old, and he was having an operation for his kidneys at the hospital. And I thought to myself, “Maybe I shouldn’t ask him because it could be too much for him?”, I decided to ask, and he accepted. He did very well and at the end of the day, he said, “Look, I’m glad that I’m participating because I’m now 90 years old. If I’m alive after the surgery, I don’t expect too much of my life from now on. I can help people that are still coming [to the hospital] or are still needing treatment.” I felt incredibly thankful that he was willing to participate in the study for future patients who may be positively impacted by his participation in our study.


POWHF:  What do you enjoy most about working in the nephrology department at POWH?

Camilla:  I think the team is very good. Everybody is very helpful and keen. The entire team is involved, and you can always ask for help. I think that’s the most important part of being in a team.



POWHF:  It’s Kidney Health Week, what are some misconceptions people have when it comes to kidney health?

Camilla:  The first thing is it’s possible to live with one kidney. When you donate one of your kidneys, you can live well, but you might be at an increased risk of developing kidney injury later. This is one of our aims of our research project, which is studying the kidney nephrectomy. This study will help clinicians to identify in their patients if they’re at a higher risk of developing kidney injuries in the future.

The second misconception is that when you have kidney disease, it doesn’t just affect one kidney – it affects your entire body. Doctors can identify this through a blood test on and by reviewing a patient’s creatinine level. If your creatinine levels are high that means there is something happening in your body that is affected both of your kidneys.

Thirdly, assuming that patients with diabetes or high blood pressure are not affected by kidney diseases later in life. They are. These patients are at a higher risk of developing kidney conditions which means they need to be cautious and measure their blood and complete urine tests frequently.  Early detection is super crucial because once you have kidney disease that is stemming from high blood pressure or diabetes, it may be too late.

Lastly, not a lot of people may be aware, but some over-the-counter painkillers can be harmful to you if you are at risk of developing kidney diseases later or are currently dealing with kidney disease. Its best to avoid painkillers such as ibuprofen or other NSAIDS which can be harmful for anyone. If you really need to take painkillers, Panadol is the “better” option


In addition to the Prince of Wales Hospital Kidney Biobank, we have funded renal research and purchased a bladder scanner for the nephrology department to continue to provide exceptional patient care at POWH. For us to continue supporting projects like these, we rely on the generosity of our donors. Today, you can simply give to our cause to help more clinicians like Dr Camila Rodriguez so they can continue vital research into kidney health and other diseases.