Blog post

Kidney Action Week Preview: Q&A with Sharron Rouse

As we count down the days until the start of the American Kidney Fund's fifth annual Kidney Action Week, we are previewing a few of the exciting sessions that are on the agenda!
Headshot of Sharron Rouse

As we count down the days until the start of the American Kidney Fund's fifth annual Kidney Action Week, we are previewing a few of the exciting sessions that are on the agenda!

Kidney Action Week is a free, virtual event that will bring together members of the kidney community during Kidney Month for a series of discussions on all things related to kidney health, including dialysis, kidney disease prevention, kidney-friendly eating, transplantation and innovations in kidney disease. In addition to taking part in all the great sessions happening, you'll be able to ask experts questions and connect with a variety of health resources that will help you live your best life. Our full Kidney Action Week agenda is available here

In this blog post, we will be previewing "Unsung Heroes in the Kidney Community," which will be held Tuesday, March 19 at 1 p.m. ET with speaker Sharron Rouse.

Can you give a short description of your experience with kidney disease and the organization you founded, Kindness for Kidneys International

I was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) in 2006. I didn't have a family history of [kidney disease] and I was completely blindsided. In 2011, I started hemodialysis, and then I received a transplant from my sister in December 2013. While I was on dialysis, I thought about ways that I could give back, especially to my own community because most of the people [in the dialysis centers] were African American. I couldn't believe we weren't having more conversations about kidney disease, and I realized that the only way to "break the cycle" of people getting kidney disease is [for kidney patients] to share their stories and provide information and education. In 2018, on the fifth anniversary of my transplant, I founded Kindness for Kidneys International because I wanted to be able to educate, encourage and empower kidney warriors and their families.

What is one thing you wish more people knew or understood about kidney disease? 

I wish more people understood that kidney disease doesn't have a face or a gender or class. When people think about kidney disease, there's a specific makeup of a person that comes to mind, whether it is [someone who is] poor or from an underserved community, and that's not always true. I also wish more people knew about the importance of taking care of their kidneys to prevent kidney disease, as it is a silent disease. Kidney disease can impact anyone, and most families have already been impacted by it whether they know it or not. 

Without giving too much away, what will you discuss in your Kidney Action Week session? 

We will discuss knowledge and information available within our kidney community. I believe knowledge is key to us changing the narrative around kidney disease and coming out of the silence that has surrounded it for so long.

Why should people attend Kidney Action Week? 

Any time we have the opportunity to come together as a community, we should never take that for granted, as there is power in numbers. If we really want to make our voices heard and see change and innovation, then we should attend Kidney Action Week to learn and discover ways to take action as a community so that we are not on these islands by ourselves trying to solve problems that are much bigger than ourselves. We are much more effective as a group than we are alone. 

And why should people attend your session, specifically?

Coming to this session will bring to life what community really is all about and how we can come together as a group to make change.

Click here to register for Kidney Action Week!


Jenni Muns

Jenni Muns is the associate director of communications for the American Kidney Fund.