ROCKVILLE, Md. (May 29, 2020) – More than 4,000 dialysis and post-transplant patients who are struggling financially because of COVID-19 will receive emergency financial assistance from the American Kidney Fund (AKF) thanks to the generosity of AstraZeneca, after the pharmaceutical company stepped forward with an unprecedented $1.1 million gift to AKF's Coronavirus Emergency Fund. Because of this contribution, every patient who is currently on AKF's waiting list will receive assistance.
"AstraZeneca's donation to the Coronavirus Emergency Fund is an act of profound generosity that will allow us to help 4,400 kidney patients who are facing incredibly difficult economic circumstances in the middle of this public health emergency," said LaVarne Burton, AKF president and CEO. "The need is so great among low-income dialysis and recent transplant patients and we continue to receive applications daily, so we are deeply grateful to AstraZeneca for stepping forward to enable us to help so many patients."
In late March, AKF established its Coronavirus Emergency Fund to help dialysis and transplant patients who are struggling to pay for renal-friendly foods, transportation and medical essentials during the COVID-19 crisis. AKF was immediately overwhelmed with applications for assistance and soon faced a backlog of thousands of applicants.
In two months, more than 9,000 patients have applied for emergency assistance, and AKF has urgently appealed to corporations, foundations and individuals for support. Though patient applications for assistance continue to come in every day, AstraZeneca's profoundly generous gift covered every person already on the waiting list, providing them a lifeline during this most challenging period.
"As a healthcare organization, we are highly committed to providing innovative solutions for patients and believe that it's our responsibility to support important causes like the American Kidney Fund's Coronavirus Emergency Fund," said Tarek Rabah, vice president, US Renal-Cardio at AstraZeneca. "This national health emergency has brought significant challenge to the chronic kidney disease community and created further complexities in their daily lives. We commend AKF for establishing the Coronavirus Emergency Fund to provide a solution directly to patients and hope that our contribution can help to relieve some of their burden."
Like all gifts to the AKF Coronavirus Emergency Fund, 100% of AstraZeneca's donation will go directly to patients. AKF is covering the cost of grant processing and check distribution to ensure that the maximum number of patients in need receive the support they so desperately need.
Even as some states begin gradually lifting restrictions, dialysis patients remain at high risk for serious illness if they become infected with the virus because of their underlying medical conditions. Because they cannot postpone their life-sustaining dialysis treatments, many need to pay for private transportation to minimize potential exposure and use delivery services for the kidney-friendly foods and supplements that their renal diet requires, which are generally unavailable from food banks. Post-transplant patients take immunosuppressive medications that increase their susceptibility to diseases like COVID-19. Social distancing requirements and shortages of food and supplies have added unexpected expenses for patients who can least afford them.
A grant recipient who worked in a store in Tennessee told AKF, "The grant money filled the gap and eased my mind about feeding my kids until I get unemployment. …as a person in kidney failure, I was very nervous continuing to work but felt I needed to for the extra money we use to feed our family."
A South Carolina patient expressed great relief at receiving an emergency grant from AKF: "The impact of this grant was a sense of relief....relief that we had a little bit of cushion and to get the necessities. Literally that little bit of cushion has done wonders for my mental health as well."
Dialysis and transplant patients may get more information about applying for AKF emergency grants from their social workers or transplant coordinators. They may also apply on their own behalf by visiting http://gms.kidneyfund.org and filling out a profile in AKF's grants management system. Patients who are already receiving AKF financial assistance may use their existing AKF grants management system profile to apply.
AKF has also established a special webpage, KidneyFund.org/coronavirus, with information and resources to help patients and families through this challenging period.
AKF is a 4-Star rated charity that is included on Charity Navigator's list of highly rated nonprofits providing emergency assistance in communities. Any individual who would like to make a contribution to the AKF Coronavirus Emergency Fund may donate at www.kidneyfund.org/emergency.
About the American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million 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. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.