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Christie W. Gooden, M.D., M.P.H. is an abdominal transplant surgeon who joined the transplant team at Saint Luke’s Hospital in 2011.  She received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1998 and went on to receive a dual MD and MPH in Health Systems Management from Tulane University in 2002.

Dr. Gooden completed her residency in general surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center in 2009. During her residency she was a National Institutes Of Health scholar from 2005-2007, working in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Cardiovascular Transplant Laboratory.

Currently, Dr. Gooden is the surgical director of the St. Luke’s Kidney Transplant Program. She is the founder and director of the St. Luke’s Hospital Dialysis Access Center and an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

Outside of academics, Dr. Gooden serves as the transplant surgery representative for the Heartland Kidney Network, which oversees all of the end stage renal disease programs in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa.

She also served as the Region 8 representative for the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) Minority Affairs Committee. She is the director of quality for all of the transplant programs at St. Luke’s and serves as the Chair of the Quality and Patient Safety Committee for St. Luke’s Physician Specialists.

When she is not at work, Dr. Gooden spends as much time as she can with her husband and her 8-year-old son and daughter.

What are the symptoms of kidney problems? 

Having trouble breathing, swelling in both legs, funny/metallic taste in your mouth, poor appetite, persistent nausea/vomiting, feeling really tired and feeling confused are some of the symptoms. Go to the National Kidney Foundation website for more information.

How does alcohol affect your kidneys? 

Alcohol mostly affects the liver. The kidney is most affected by drugs called NSAIDS i.e. ibuprofen, sold over the counter and by prescription as  Aleve, Naproxen, Motrin, Advil. Taking too much of those medications on a consistent basis can lead to kidney damage.

What does the acronym EGFR mean & what is the “normal” range?

Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate  It is calculated from the results of your blood creatinine test, your age, body size and gender. Your eGFR tells your doctor your stage of kidney disease and helps the doctor plan your treatment. In general, it should be above 60. A eGFR below 60 for three months or more OR a GFR above 60 with kidney damage (marked by high levels of albumin in your urine) indicates chronic kidney disease.

I have a cyst on my kidney what should I do?

Most cysts are normal.  There are special studies that can look closer at your cysts and let your doctor know if there is anything about how your cysts look that would need to be followed more closely. I would make sure that your doctor is aware of your cyst.

So having protein in your urine is bad?

It may be a sign of early kidney disease.  If you are a diabetic, have hypertension, have a history of kidney disease or any other risk factors, your urine should be checked. All it takes is a simple urine test to screen for it.

My cousin has lupus and her kidneys are in bad shape because of it. She’s been on the transplant list for years. Any tips??

A living donor is always the best. If there is a match – be it family, friend or stranger, that possibility should be explored.  The other way to increase her odds of getting a transplant is to have her listed at multiple transplant centers.  There are centers that have a low wait time based on where they are in the country.  Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients  has reports on every transplant center including wait time. Another organization, Angelflight, volunteers to help patients get to medical care that may be far away from them.

What should the eGFR be for a 90-year old female who is hypertensive but healthy, otherwise?

In general, it should be above 60.  A eGFR below 60 for three months or more OR a GFR above 60 with kidney damage (marked by high levels of albumin in your urine) indicates chronic kidney disease.

I have a 13 year old son who is currently seeing a nephrologist. He has to have a renal biopsy in the next couple of weeks. His protein count has been in the 900’s. What are some things we can expect going forward?

Your son’s kidney doctor should suggest diet modifications and manage his medications to try and reduce the protein in his urine.  The biopsy helps determine what is going on with the kidneys.  There are certain diseases that lead to kidney failure.  Your doctor can help you manage the disease and prolong the time it may take for the kidneys to fail.  If the biopsy shows one of those diseases, it helps to start learning about the process of transplantation.

Hi, Doc! I live in Lee’s Summit. I have kidney disease and take 4 blood pressure meds. Is that normal?

Good morning, neighbor! It is not uncommon for patients to have severe hypertension with kidney disease. The question is, did the hypertension lead to the kidney disease or did the kidney disease cause the hypertension?  It may be helpful to have your kidneys checked for renal artery stenosis. That can sometimes cause severe hypertension and can often be treated.

A question for the doc… How much water should a woman drink daily? I”ve heard a variety of answers to this question.

The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.

Doc is diabetes permanent? I don’t have it but it runs in my family.

In some people, if they lose weight with diet and exercise, they can avoid being on medication. The best defense against getting diabetes with a strong family history of it, is to keep your weight down with diet and exercise.

Tom, You forgot to mention that Dr. Christie is a graduate of the greatest HBCU – Xavier University of LA! Great Job Dr. Christie! Aniika and the KC STEMMsational Women!. 

Thanks!!!  XULA for life.

What are the best things to do to lower cholesterol?

Diet and exercise first.  Some people because of genetics will require medication even with diet and exercise.

How can you best reduce protein and other things in the urine?

If you are a diabetic, make sure your sugars are under control. High sugars damage the kidneys and allows protein to spill into the urine. The same with hypertension – high blood pressure damages the kidneys.

What does the color of your urine say about your kidneys?

Urine can be very light to dark amber, depending on how much you drink (if it’s too dark it means you’re dehydrated).  Things to be concerned about would be blood in the urine (infection or kidney stones) or orange urine with light color stools and yellowing skin (liver disease).

My diabetes test results were 6.4. I need to know where to go or what books to buy for healthy low carb/sugar meals. I’m single, no children and I don’t cook, but eat a lot of fast food. I’m a 48-year-old female and ready for a change. 

The best place for those books would be on of the big book stores like Barnes and Nobles. That way you can browse the pages and see which ones have recipes you might want to try. Another suggestion is to check out diabetic websites for suggestions. They have great online communities for diabetics that discuss books and give suggestions.

My blood pressure is 250 above 80. Is that good when I’m exercising?

Blood pressures that high are stroke range pressures!  You should be in the ER getting your blood pressure down.  Then make sure you take your meds everyday. Then you can think about exercise.

What are the names of the two tests to be aware of when checking kidneys?

A blood test such as a basic metabolic profile, comprehensive metabolic profile or renal profile would calculate your eGFR. The second test is a urine test for protein.

My husband has had protein in his urine since he was a little boy. Will this alone lead to dialysis?

It may be a sign of kidney disease. He should be monitored by a doctor and assessed for risk factors for kidney disease. If he is a diabetic, make sure his sugars are under control. High sugars damage the kidneys and allows protein to spill into the urine. Same with hypertension – high blood pressure damages the kidneys.

I am not diabetic, However, several years ago I had protein in my urine. Should protein ever be in urine?

It may be a sign of early kidney disease. I would make sure that my doctor was screening for it and assessing for risk factors for kidney disease at least annually.

I am a 44-year-old Black diabetic. I am currently taking metformin, onglyza and Amaryl. My sugar numbers are now at approximately 250 every morning. What can I do to reduce this number?

I don’t want to take insulin. If you are overweight, diet and exercise to reduce your weight is extremely important.

Dr. Gooden when a person needs to have a kidney transplant do a person needs to have anesthesia? Is it painful?

You have to be put under a general anesthetic so that we can operate on you. Any operation will have some pain associated with it, but you get excellent pain medication after the surgery.

Most of my patients don’t have significant pain after transplant. They often feel great because they have a working kidney and most are up and walking the day after surgery.

What is it about diabetes and hypertension that causes kidney failure? Is it the medications or the diseases themselves? I’m 45 and was recently diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. Can they be cured?

High sugars damage the kidneys and allows protein to spill into the urine. Not to be all scientific, but the kidneys are a filter and the sugar molecule is very big.  The kidneys were only designed to be able to filter so much of that big molecule. When the sugar is high in your blood, you are making your kidneys work harder.  Same with hypertension.

High blood pressure damages the kidneys.  The body was not designed to handle high pressures for long periods of time.  It is like trying to constantly put air in a tire when it is already full.  The tire will keep trying to handle the pressure but after a while, the pressure wins and the tire pops.  When your organs are constantly put under pressure, they get damaged. Diabetes and hypertension can be better controlled with diet and exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Sometimes people can even come off of medications if they change to a healthier lifestyle and stay consistent.

Doc, what are things that a living donor should do and watch out for?

The beauty of living donation is that you can live your life pretty much as you did before. You can exercise, have children, etc. It is important to maintain the healthy lifestyle that let you become a donor in the first place.  I always suggest to my living donors that if they ever have to go to a new doctor or go to the hospital, make sure you tell them that you have one kidney.

You want to make sure that people avoid giving you drugs that can hurt the kidney, if at all possible. You should also avoid certain over-the-counter pain medicines that can cause kidney damage. The kidney is most affected by drugs called NSAIDS i.e., ibuprofen sold as  Aleve Naproxen, Motrin, Advil. Taking too much of those medications on a consistent basis can lead to kidney damage.

My manager drinks pop all day and no water. How important is drinking

water in making sure you have healthy kidneys? And will this eventually

have a harmful effect on her overall health? Pop is often full of sugar and other additives.

Too much sugar can make you urinate unnecessarily and cause dehydration. Water is much more hydrating. Everything in moderation. It never hurts to change it up. I know how hard it is to change unhealthy habits, so I recommend trading at least one pop a day for water as a start.

They found protein in my urine last week. They did the 24-hour sample Monday. What should I be asking the doctor? I am Black, 52 years old and have hypertension.

I would ask my doctor what my eGFR is, so you can follow it over the years, and are there signs of kidney damage?  I would make sure that my medication was controlling my blood pressure effectively.

What can you do to prevent protein in the urine?

If you are a diabetic, make sure your sugars are under control.  High sugars damage the kidneys and allows protein to spill into the urine.  Same with hypertension, high blood pressure damages the kidneys.

Do eGFR results come from a blood or a urine test?

It comes from  a blood test such as a basic metabolic profile, comprehensive metabolic profile or renal profile would calculate your eGFR.  It is then calculated from the results of your blood creatinine test, your age, body size and gender.

Should I have the EGFR test if I am not diabetic or hypertensive?

It is already calculated when you get routine labs.

I am a 51-year-old diabetic. When I have to go to the bathroom lately  I used to be able to hold it for a little while, like 5 or 10 minutes, but now once I have to go, I have to get up and go or I won’t make it. Does that mean something wrong with my kidneys?

That might be more of a urology issue or it could be a sign of an infection.  I would make an appointment with your doctor to check it out.

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2 thoughts on “Get Well Wednesday: Dr. Christie Gooden Answers Your Kidney Questions

  1. sheila kipsura on said:

    Dear Doctor it was discovered that I had a kidney failure last year December, I started with going for dialysis 3times a week and now I go once a week. Its been unfortunate for me to get a donor from my close family.How else can I get a donor ? Please help me.

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