October 20, 2009

Contact: Michele Anthony or Paul McGinley
(202) 244-7900, Ext. 29 or 15

DC Council Member Marion Barry and Kidney Donor Kim Dickens to Speak at National Kidney Foundation Conference

(Washington, DC) – DC Council Member Marion Barry and his kidney donor Kim Dickens will address participants of the National Kidney Foundation's People Like Us Conference for dialysis patients, family members, and caregivers on Sunday, October 25 at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center.

The goal of the People Like Us Conference is to help patients learn more about chronic kidney disease (CKD) so that they can become active in making decisions with their healthcare team. Through a series of educational sessions, participants will learn about renal friendly recipes through a live cooking demonstration, understand how to manage the emotions of living with kidney disease, network one-on-one with health experts, and participate in conversation about different dialysis options.

According to NKF Division President Preston A. Englert, Jr., CAE, "We hope after participating in the conference dialysis patients will be aware of all of the options available to them and have the confidence to take charge of their treatment and of their life."

The seminar runs from 12 – 5 pm with Barry and Dickens slated to speak at 1:30 pm. At People Like Us, they will share their insights and experiences in the hopes of raising awareness about living donation and transplantation.

In February 2009, Dickens donated one of her kidneys to Barry, who is a family friend. Barry was extremely ill in the months leading up to the transplant. For many years he battled diabetes and hypertension, the two leading causes of kidney failure. When he learned he needed a kidney transplant, Barry jokingly asked friends gathered at a restaurant, "Would you give me a kidney?" and was surprised at Dickens' response.

Dickens, who has known Barry for more than a decade, welcomed the chance to help her ailing friend. She and three others were tested at Howard University to see if they could be donors. When she learned she was a match, she wept tears of joy.

Barry has been a long-time supporter of kidney patients and organ donation initiatives including working with the Department of Motor Vehicles to include organ donor status on drivers' licenses. Recently Barry endorsed federal legislation that would extend Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant recipients.

This local conference is part of a growing national movement called "People Like Us" designed to empower, educate and encourage people affected by chronic kidney disease, transplantation and donation to be strong advocates for their health, raise awareness in their community and contact their lawmakers through the "Take Action Network."

The Washington, DC area leads the nation in the prevalence of kidney disease with more than 700,000 people affected, nearly 6,000 patients on dialysis, and more than 1,600 waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant.

The mission of the National Kidney Foundation is to prevent kidney and urinary tract diseases, improve the health and well being of individuals and families affected by these diseases, and increase the availability of all organs for transplantation.