Press release

Massive Earthquakes in Puerto Rico Disrupt Treatment for Dialysis Patients; American Kidney Fund Activates Disaster Relief Program to Help

ROCKVILLE, Md. (Jan. 15, 2020) — Back-to-back earthquakes with ongoing aftershocks are causing hundreds of thousands of evacuations and leaving many residents without power in Puerto Rico. To help Puerto Rico's vulnerable dialysis patients, who have experienced more than two years of catastrophic natural disasters, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) has activated its Disaster Relief Program to provide emergency financial assistance.

AKF's Disaster Relief Program is the nation's only rapid-response system that provides emergency assistance to dialysis patients to help replace medications, food and household items, and pay for essentials such as the cost of fuel or transportation to dialysis treatments and medical appointments.

"Natural disasters create very challenging, life-threatening situations for dialysis patients, who are already in a vulnerable state, needing regular treatment to live, taking medications daily and following strict diets," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and chief executive officer. "Missing just one dialysis treatment due to not being able to get to a working dialysis center or not having electricity at home puts a patient's life at risk, compounded by the emotional stress of living through a natural disaster."

Several dialysis centers in the affected region were damaged in the earthquakes, and clinic personnel have been working overtime to reschedule patients for treatment in other locations.

"We are hearing reports of clinic personnel working 20-hour days as they struggle to ensure that each of their patients can receive treatment, even as they deal with damage to their own homes and their own families' safety," Burton said. "Medical personnel from other parts of the island are being dispatched to the affected areas to help in the effort, with clinics also providing food, water and emergency supplies to their patients."

Any Puerto Rico dialysis patients affected by the earthquakes who need an AKF emergency grant should contact a social worker at their dialysis center for information on applying or call AKF directly at 800.795.3226. After Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, AKF provided more than $100,000 in disaster relief grants to nearly 500 patients in Puerto Rico. 

Additionally, anyone who would like to help dialysis patients affected by this natural disaster may make a contribution to AKF.

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.

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