Mohan Tatra

The renal route to good health

A volunteer helps launch the South Asian chapter of the Kidney Foundation in Surrey.

Note: The launch of the South Asian Chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC Branch, takes place Thursday, April 3 at 1 p.m. at the Grand Taj Banquet Hall, 8388 128 St. The event is free, and includes snacks and T-shirts.

Mohan Tatra has learned a lot about kidneys over the last several years.

He can expound at length about a kidney’s 1 million nephrons and their ability to filter waste from the blood.

He will explain in detail about how excess salt and sugar in one’s diet is harmful to kidney health.

Tatra also speaks four languages – Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and English – a boon to the local renal community.

Tatra, 72, is the president of the new South Asian Chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC Branch, which launches on April 3 in Newton.

He and his wife Surjit have been volunteers with the foundation for four years, spreading awareness to the South Asian community about proper diet and exercise, explaining how kidneys work, and offering advice to a group at greater risk of kidney disease than the general population.

He sets an example by walking 75 minutes each day with his wife.

Most importantly, he says, the information he passes on, some of it quite technical, is in a language they can understand.

The South Asian population, despite a greater risk of kidney disease, is also less apt to become organ donors, says Heather Johnson, the director of programs at the Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC Branch.

Asking people to sign up as donors is one of the Kidney Foundation’s priorities.

Johnson says that the South Asian Chapter, which already has several volunteers, is being given financial resources to focus on at-risk groups, providing testing, peer support and self-help advice.

Volunteers also regularly visit dialysis patients undergoing lengthy treatments.

About 20 times a year, the foundation brings local temples targeted screening programs.

During full-day sessions, about 70 patients are given five tests during a 20-minute period: Blood pressure, blood glucose (diabetes puts people at risk of kidney disease), Body Mass Index, creatinine (a kidney waste product), and what’s known as eGFR (a fast and accurate test of kidney function).

Johnson says the South Asian chapter isn’t necessarily Surrey-exclusive, and has already approached people of Aboriginal, Filipino and African heritage, who have their own elevated risks of kidney disease.

“It doesn’t matter who comes to us,” says Tatra.

For more information, or to volunteer with the South Asian Chapter for the Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC Branch, call Mohan Tatra at 604-594-3262.

For more information about kidney health, visit


Kidney facts:


• Kidneys remove excess water from the body or retain water when the body needs more.

• Kidneys remove excess minerals, such as sodium and potassium, which are excreted from the body in the urine. The kidneys also help to regulate the levels of other minerals such as calcium and phosphate, which are important for the formation of bone.

• Kidneys release hormones that regulate some body functions such as blood pressure, the making of red blood cells, and the uptake of calcium from the intestine

• When the kidneys fail, wastes and fluids accumulate in the body and dialysis treatments or kidney transplants are needed to clean your blood. Transplants are limited by the number of donors available.

Source: The Kidney Foundation of Canada

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