Press release

American Kidney Fund to Hold Congressional Briefing on Increasing Kidney Transplants in Communities of Color

ROCKVILLE, Md. (September 15, 2021) The American Kidney Fund (AKF) will hold an online Congressional briefing, Increasing Kidney Transplants in Communities of Color, today from 1-2 p.m. ET at The briefing will explore the reasons people of color are disproportionately affected by kidney failure, often spend longer on the transplant waiting list, have less access to living donor kidney transplants and often experience shorter survival time of transplanted kidneys. AKF is grateful to AstraZeneca for its leadership support of AKF's health equity programming.

Speakers include:

  • Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) , Assistant Whip for House Leadership
  • Eric Dolby , AKF patient Ambassador from Raleigh, N.C.
  • Nicole Jefferson , AKF patient Ambassador from Dallas
  • J. Keith Melancon, M.D. , Chief of the GW Transplant Institute and professor of surgery at The George Washington University Hospital
  • Ken Sutha, M.D. , Instructor of Pediatric Nephrology at Stanford University School of Medicine and AKF Ambassador from Palo Alto, Calif.
  • And moderator Frances Ashe Goins, Former Deputy Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health; adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina and member, AKF National Board of Trustees

"The most effective treatment for kidney failure is a kidney transplant; however, people of color — who are already impacted by disproportionate rates of kidney failure — often struggle to access this lifesaving procedure," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF President and CEO. "Persisting disparities have led to worse health outcomes for communities of color, and we are calling on members of Congress to ensure equitable access to kidney transplantation for all patients who need one."

One important strategy to confront health disparities in transplant is increasing living organ donations, especially by and for people of color. In 2020, 64% of the 5,234 living donor kidney transplants performed in the United States went to white recipients. Just 11% went to Black recipients and 16% went to Hispanic recipients. Kidneys from living organ donors last 15-20 years on average, while kidneys from deceased donors last an average of 10-15 years.

Existing policy barriers discourage many would-be donors from making living organ donations. AKF continues to spearhead legislation at the state and federal level to increase living organ donor protections to make more kidneys available for transplantation, and the 16,000 patient Ambassadors in AKF's Advocacy Network have been an important part of that work.

The briefing is part of AKF's Kidney Action Week, a week-long schedule of virtual events focusing on kidney disease prevention, management, nutrition, dialysis and transplantation, that is running from Sept. 13-17. Health disparities are an overarching theme throughout the week.

Kidney Action Week is made possible by the generosity of sponsors Boehringer Ingelheim/Lilly, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and US Renal Care.

AKF is also grateful to session sponsors AstraZeneca, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, GSK, Horizon Therapeutics plc, Natera, Sanofi Genzyme, Travere and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

About the American Kidney Fund

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nonprofit with the greatest direct impact on people with kidney disease. AKF works on behalf of 1 in 7 Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. AKF fights for kidney health for all through programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy. AKF is one of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, investing 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, and holds the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 21 consecutive years and the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly known as GuideStar. 

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