Jefferson County Residents Take Action for Their Health at American Kidney Fund’s Alabama Kidney Action Day in Bessemer


BESSEMER, Ala. (March 21, 2016) – The American Kidney Fund (AKF)) hosted Alabama’s first Kidney Action Day® at DeBardeleben Park in Bessemer on Saturday, March 19, a fun event with a serious purpose: helping people understand their risk for kidney disease and the steps they can take to help prevent it.

Hundreds of Jefferson County residents learned that diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease. They participated in fitness activities, learned that healthy food can be easy to prepare and taste great, and took advantage of free health screenings offered by the American Kidney Fund.

City officials, including Council President Ron Marshall, Councilors Jessie Matthews and David Vance, and Mayor’s Assistant Toraine Norris encouraged residents to use the occasion of Kidney Action Day to learn how they could help protect themselves from kidney disease, the ninth-leading cause of death in the United States. Almost 12,000 Alabama residents are living with kidney failure, and nearly 9,000 depend on dialysis for survival. In Jefferson County, more than 11 percent of residents have diabetes, and more than 32 percent have high blood pressure, putting them at greater risk of developing kidney disease and kidney failure.

“Kidney disease is a serious health issue in Jefferson County and throughout Alabama,” said LaVarne Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund. “Education and awareness are vital first steps in fighting this devastating disease. We were very glad that so many people braved the blustery weather and joined us at Kidney Action Day to get tested, and to learn how they can help protect themselves and their families from this silent killer.”

In 2015, the American Kidney Fund provided grants to more than 2,300 low-income Alabama kidney failure patients, including 268 patients in the Birmingham metropolitan area. Grants from AKF help low-income individuals maintain their health insurance coverage and pay for out-of-pocket treatment-related expenses that insurance does not cover. 

Kidney disease is an increasingly common but often-preventable condition. More than 31 million Americans have kidney disease and millions more are at risk. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of CKD. Other risk factors include having a family history of kidney disease, being over 60, and being African-American, Asian American, Native American or of Hispanic ethnicity. Left undiagnosed and untreated, CKD can lead to heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure and death.

CKD is known as a silent killer because it typically has no symptoms until the late stages. If an individual has developed early CKD, detection through screenings is a key factor in slowing or stopping its progression.

Alabama Kidney Action Day was held in partnership with the City of Bessemer. The event was made possible through the generous support of Presenting National Screening Sponsor American Renal Associates, National Screening Sponsor U.S. Renal Care, Inc., and Regional Sponsor Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, along with other supporters in in the community. For more information on the American Kidney Fund, visit