Hinsdale doctor honored for dialysis work
Dr. Ronald K. Hamburger, a nephrologist from Hinsdale, with his wife, Diane, received the Harold & Molly Schwartz Founder's Award from the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois.
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:23AM
HINSDALE — Dr. Ronald K. Hamburger, a Hinsdale resident and director of dialysis services at Palos Hospital, was honored by the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois for his outstanding achievement and commitment to the organization.
Q. You have served on the foundation’s Scientific (Medical) Advisory Board for more than 20 years. What is the board’s purpose?
A. The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois has different people we respond to, nephrologists, nurses, dieticians, social workers, people on dialysis and also transplant patients. We offer education programs for (each group) . . . and every spring we have “Controversies in nephrology debates.” We have young physicians debating certain topics, such as issues in transplantation. It’s been great, we get large crowds for that.
We also give out funds to investigators in research, so we are a multifunctional organization.
Q. What are some of the more promising areas of research?
A. There has been some basic research on an artificial kidney . . . but a kidney is more complex than a heart. A heart, put simply, is a pump. Kidneys get rid of poisons that are produced by the body’s metabolism. They also get rid of salt and water.
They’re trying to grow kidneys from bone marrow progenitor cells, that may be something, but not in the near future.
Q. Is it likely humans someday will get kidney transplants from animals?
A. There have been a lot of studies with porcine kidneys, but the big bugaboo with that is there are antigens in the (pig) tissue that cause virtually immediate rejection. They’re finding ways to address that, but I don’t think we will see it in the immediate future.
Q. Why use pig kidneys if human bodies reject them?
A. The number one reason is there are a lot of pigs available. Apes would be a closer genetic match to humans, but . . .there would be much more resistance to using apes as donors and they are not as readily available.
Q. What are the most common causes of kidney failure?
A. Diabetes — about 50 percent of the people who are on dialysis have diabetes — and hypertension are the two major problems that if caught early and treated well can prevent kidney failure.
The kidney foundation has been very proactive in finding people who are at risk of kidney disease or are in the early stages. The KidneyMobile does many screenings throughout the state, taking urine and blood samples. There are millions of people in this world with chronic kidney disease, but there are no symptoms until it’s in the advanced stages.
Q. Why did you move to Hinsdale (in 1986)?
A. We were living in Oak Park. I had joined a practice in the southwest suburbs, and my wife was working for Nalco in Naperville, so we looked for a location that was sort of halfway between.
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I was born in Oklahoma, then we moved to Kansas. We moved to Illinois when I was 9. My dad was a Presbyterian minister in Morris, Ill. from 1963 to 1980.