Press release

During Kidney Month, American Kidney Fund Marks Its 50th Anniversary by Honoring Patient Milestones

ROCKVILLE, Md. (March 1, 2021) — Fifty years ago, a small group of friends created a nonprofit that in its first year saved the lives of 79 people with kidney failure, and a mission was born. This Kidney Month, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) is marking its 50th anniversary of fighting for patients and families, driven by the same spirit of compassion and commitment that fueled its founding in 1971.

"Kidney disease cuts lives tragically short and kills more people each year than prostate or breast cancer," said LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund. "For the more than 130,000 people diagnosed with kidney failure each year, it is a life-altering condition that imposes enormous physical, emotional and financial burdens. AKF has always been fueled by a passion for helping patients live better, healthier and longer lives, and during March, as we celebrate Kidney Month and mark 50 years of service, we are honoring the milestones that count the most: the special moments that people have been able to experience in the face of this disease."

At AKF's website hub for Kidney Month,, people with kidney disease and their caregivers can share their stories: the transplants, birthdays, graduations and other great moments they have experienced over the years.

"It's easy to become overwhelmed by the numbers: 37 million Americans with kidney disease and 785,000 with kidney failure today. These numbers aren't just statistics, they are real people — very likely someone you know — and AKF is fighting on all fronts for each one of those individuals. They are demanding more innovation, research funding and legislative actions that have the power to change the trajectory of this disease," said Burton.

Making a tangible positive difference in the lives of people with kidney disease and those at-risk has been at the heart of AKF's mission since its founding. Over the past half century, AKF has provided lifesaving financial assistance to more than 2 million kidney patients. AKF's Clinical Scientist in Nephrology program has funded clinical research grants to many scholars who have gone on to become leaders in the field of nephrology. More than 42 million people have accessed award-winning education content on over the years.

Making more transplants possible, and ensuring better outcomes for those who receive transplants, is another key AKF priority. In 2020, AKF's health insurance premium grants made possible 7% of all kidney transplants performed in the United States. AKF has spearheaded legislation to provide legal protections to living organ donors, over the past two years working closely with lawmakers in 12 states to get these bills passed and signed into law, and has worked with Congress to advance the federal Living Donor Protection Act, which has been reintroduced this session. AKF also worked tirelessly for passage of the landmark lifetime Medicare immunosuppressive coverage bill that was recently signed into law.

AKF's Kidney Month activities are designed to build greater understanding of kidney health and inspire others to take action to support those fighting the disease. At AKF's Kidney Month webpage, visitors can read about people with kidney disease who've celebrated milestones in their own lives, and learn ways to get involved, such as:

  • Submitting artwork for AKF's annual Calendar Kids Art Contest. For over two decades, AKF's art contest has given children with kidney disease a creative outlet. Thirteen drawings will be chosen to appear in AKF's 2022 calendar, and the cover artist will be honored at AKF's national gala, The Hope Affair, on Oct. 20, 2021.
  • Testing your knowledge with the kidney quiz. How much do you know about kidneys? How much do your friends know? Take AKF's kidney quiz and pass it on to help increase awareness and understanding of these vital organs.
  • Showing your support for living organ donors by signing AKF's petition. Where Americans live can affect their ability to give the gift of life, according to AKF's 2021 Living Donor Protection Report Card. Show your support for federal living donor legislation that would ensure a nationwide baseline of protections for living organ donors who make lifesaving kidney transplants possible.
  • Donating to support AKF's lifesaving work. AKF fights kidney disease on all fronts, supporting Americans wherever they are in their journey with kidney disease, from prevention through post-transplant living, and does so while spending 97 cents of every donated dollar on patients and programs, earning the organization the highest 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for 19 years in a row.

AKF recognizes and appreciates its 2021 Kidney Month sponsors, including Amgen, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ardelyx, Inc., GSK, Horizon Therapeutics plc, Mallinckrodt plc, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., Quest Diagnostics, Inc., and Sanofi Genzyme.

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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