Press release

As California wildfires force massive evacuations, American Kidney Fund activates Disaster Relief Program to help vulnerable dialysis patients

As California wildfires force massive evacuations, American Kidney Fund activates Disaster Relief Program to help vulnerable dialysis patients

ROCKVILLE, Md. (Oct. 30, 2019) – Hurricane-force winds are fueling the spread of wildfires in Northern and Southern California, causing hundreds of thousands of people to be evacuated from their homes and Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency. To help vulnerable dialysis patients in the path of the fires, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) has activated its Disaster Relief Program, the nation's only rapid-response system that provides emergency financial assistance to dialysis patients.

When disaster strikes their communities, disaster relief grants from AKF help patients replace lost medications and special renal diet foods, pay for temporary housing and transportation to treatment, and replace clothing and personal essentials lost due to the natural disaster or the need to evacuate without notice.

The destructive wildfires have already created extensive damage, and much of the state is without power. Schools and businesses have been closed for safety, and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has been shutting off electricity and gas in an effort to help prevent the wildfires from spreading. The power outages include people on PG&E's list of customers who require electricity in their homes to run medical equipment, such as home dialysis machines.

"We are very concerned about how dialysis patients are faring in this emergency situation, and are prepared to help them with disaster relief grants beginning today," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and chief executive officer. "Emergency evacuations and power outages create very challenging, life-threatening situations for these patients. Patients in the fire zones are faced with losing all their belongings, including their medicines and their renal-friendly foods, when they evacuate their homes. Those who dialyze at home need electricity to complete their treatments, and those who dialyze in a center that is without power have to find an alternative place for treatment during lengthy and widespread outages."

Missing just one dialysis treatment due to a power outage puts a patient's life at risk. PG&E's shutoffs this month have caused multiple dialysis centers to close and dialysis patients, particularly in rural areas of California, to evacuate to find places they can safely dialyze. Having dialysis treatment schedules affected by power outages causes additional burden and stress for dialysis patients during a time they should be focusing on staying safe during a natural disaster.

Any California dialysis patient affected by the wildfires who needs an AKF disaster relief grant should contact their dialysis social worker for information on applying, or call AKF directly at 800.795.3226.

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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