Our history: A legacy of caring

In 1971, a group of friends came together and saved 79 lives, and a mission was born. In 2021, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) celebrated 50 years of fighting for patients and families. The same spirit of compassion and commitment to people in which we were founded still drives our work today.

Collage of faces

A legacy built by caring people like you

AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, providing an unmatched scope of programs to comprehensively address their health challenges. Through prevention, disease management, treatment and transplant, clinical research and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives.


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    Establishing a lifeline to lifesaving care

    In 1971, when the cost of dialysis would have bankrupted any normal American family, a group of friends worked together to raise funds for a neighbor who needed to pay for lifesaving dialysis treatments. They were so successful that they were able to help 79 patients and the American Kidney Fund was founded. For the past five decades people have been the central focus of our work - listening to the needs, hopes and dreams of kidney patients drives our agenda. To this day, we have proudly assisted more than 2 million kidney failure patients and educated millions more about how to prevent or manage this life changing diseases.


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    Breaking new ground in transplant

    In 1974, we awarded our first research grant to Dr. Samuel L. Kountz, a pioneer in kidney transplantation from Brooklyn, New York. Dr. Kountz's groundbreaking research in tissue typing led to the increased use of kidneys from unrelated donors. Later, AKF founded the Clinical Scientist in Nephrology (CSN) program in 1988 to support nephrology's brightest scholars, who are accelerating urgently needed advances in kidney disease treatments, therapies and more.


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    Convening the top minds in kidney disease

    In the late 1970s, AKF began sponsoring professional meetings that explored important developments in the treatment of kidney disease, working with leading hospitals and nephrologists.


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    Connecting the public to vital information

    In 1980, AKF began a public education outreach program to promote our new toll-free patient assistance and kidney information phone line. In addition, our nationwide network of Kidney Health Coach community educators and our website, www.KidneyFund.org, connect millions of Americans with the knowledge they need to prevent and manage kidney disease. And in 2019 we launched Kidney Kitchen, a free resource for kidney-friendly recipes and tips to help patients manage their disease through diet.


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    Improving early detection

    Recognizing the disproportionate impact of kidney disease on people of color, in 1996 we launched a prevention program. In recent years, these efforts have broadened to focus on a variety of strategies to improve health equity and early detection.


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    Championing patients and living donors

    From our earliest days, AKF has been a strong advocate for public policy that ensures access to high-quality care for kidney patients, supports research and fights discriminatory health insurance practices that impact patients and living donors. Our AKF Ambassador advocacy network of more than 28,000 patients and caregivers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia engage policymakers on kidney disease and patient care.


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    Leading the way for kidney patients

    With the support of caring people like you, the American Kidney Fund is the nation's leading provider of charitable assistance to kidney failure patients. In 2023, we helped more than 66,000 low-income U.S. dialysis and transplant patients pay for health insurance premiums and other treatment-related expenses critical to their health and survival.


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    Earning top charity ratings

    AKF is one of the nation's top-rated nonprofits, investing 97 cents of every donated dollar in patients and programs, and holds the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator and the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar. In fact, AKF is 1 of only 3 U.S. nonprofits to have received Charity Navigator's highest 4-star rating every year possible, as of 2021.

Undrella S. raised money for AKF through our Facebook 37 Mile Challenge

Do it your way

Fundraise for AKF

Support AKF anywhere, anytime — and have fun while doing it! Join an AKF 37 Mile Challenge. Pledge your birthday. Or create a fundraiser that's unique to you. We are here to support you along the way.