Hawaii's rate for kidney disease is 30 percent higher than the rest of the nation. Treatment is the topic at an international conference going on in Waikiki.
Kidney disease and the importance of kidney donation hits close to home for one local family.
Ellie Price is as active as any other 9-year-old. But, the fact that she's alive is what's remarkable.
Ellie was diagnosed at birth with autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. It's a condition that leads to enlarged kidneys.
"We took her home after four days, which was really a miracle for us," said Julia Price, Ellie's mother. "But, the doctors weren't sure how many challenges she would have."
Ellie takes six different medications a day along with two injections, which has helped her stay healthy and away from dialysis.
"This is something that Ellie has and deals with well and we've come to deal with," said Ellie's father Richard Price.
"The mortality rate in the early years is very high," said Dr. Harold Franch from the International Society of Rental Nutrition and Metabolism. "So, the fact that she's made it this long is certainly encouraging."
Ways to help Ellie and the more than 150,000 others with kidney disease in Hawaii is being discussed at an international conference in Waikiki this week.
"Many of the treatments that have normalized growth in children with kidney disease have come out of research by investigators at this meeting," said Dr. Franch.
Diet, obesity and diabetes are the reasons for Hawaii's high rate of kidney disease.
Although Ellie's disease is genetic, the only cure for her and other is a kidney transplant. Ellie's family is hoping more people will come to see the importance in making a difference in thousands of lives.
"It's very important that people open their hearts and their minds to the idea of a donation and how beneficial it is to everyone," said Julia Price.
It's not clear when a transplant will be needed and there's no guarantee on how long the kidney will last, but the Price family is hopeful their little girl with the big heart for animals will have a kidney that will lead to a long, healthy life.