From Haitian earthquake relief to local food banks, Americans can always be counted on to give. Yet the 83,000 people on the national list for lifesaving kidney transplants are still waiting for the gift of life. As the number of living kidney donors declines nationwide, the National Kidney Foundation has launched a new Living Donor Council to identify unmet needs, develop programs to meet those needs and advocate for donors and potential donors.
"Our goal is to remove the barriers to living donation that currently exist, improve the donation process and expand the resources and services available to potential donors. The Living Donor Council will serve at the 'voice for living donors,'" says John Davis, National Kidney Foundation CEO.
Specific barriers that the Living Donor Council will address through comprehensive education, support and legislative advocacy programs include the financial impact as well as the physical and emotional issues surrounding donation and the knowledge gap regarding available treatment.
The NKF has appointed a 10-member Executive Committee of living kidney donors and professionals to guide the work of the Living Donor Council. The Executive Committee will work to make recommendations from NKF's ground-breaking End the Wait! initiative a reality.
"Making sure that living donors don't have to think about the repercussions of taking time off from work and that they have access to life, health and disability insurance is a top priority as is ensuring that they receive top medical care and long term tracking of their health," says Davis.
The number of live kidney donors decreased from an all time high of 6,647 in 2004 to 6,387 in 2009, even thought the list of people who need a kidney grows daily.
"Through education and advocacy for legislation that ensures the safety, health and job security of living donors, we are sure we can make a difference," says Davis.
The National Kidney Foundation is dedicated to preventing and treating kidney disease, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases and increasing awareness of all organs for transplantation.
For more information on living donation visit www.livingdonors.org