March 26, 2010

Contact: Paul McGinley
(202) 244-7900 ext. 15


The National Kidney Foundation Honors Donors and Donor Families during the 7th Annual April is National Donate Life Month

Washington, DC – April is National Donate Life Month and the National Kidney Foundation Serving the National Capital Area is honoring living and deceased donors while asking every American to consider organ donation. Various activities such as the 2nd Annual Ronald D. Paul Prince George's County Walk on Sunday, April 25 will honor living and deceased donors. The Walk is a celebration of life bringing together people whose lives have been affected by kidney disease, organ donation and transplantation.

In America, more than 83,000 people are waiting for a kidney with more than 1,600 of these individuals awaiting kidney transplants in the Washington, DC area. In 2009, there were only 15,000 kidney transplants performed in the United States, clearly illustrating the gap between the number of individuals waiting for a kidney and the number of kidney transplants performed each year. Every day 18 people die while waiting for a transplant of a vital organ.

There are a number of ways someone can help. The simplest is to sign a uniform donor card and keep it in your wallet, or you can make sure you indicated your donor status the next time you are getting a license from the DMV. You can also sign up online on your state's web site. But, most of all you should discuss your wishes to donate with your family.

You can also consider becoming a living donor. A good first step is to learn the facts – talk with other living donors. Then you'll , register at a transplant center and be prepared to be tested both medicaly and mentaly. At any point during the process you can back out.

There are two altruistic donors in our area that were recently part of a domino kidney exchange -- making it possible for multiple donors to be paired with people who otherwise would not have received a kidney because their donor was incompatible. Their selfless act gave complete strangers a second chance at life.

When asked, what makes a person donate a kidney to a stranger? Their response was:

What You Can Do

The National Kidney Foundation in response to the crisis of organ and donor shortages launched the END THE WAIT! initiative. End the Wait! is a comprehensive action plan designed to end the wait for a kidney transplant in the U.S. There are specific recommendations that are directed at living donors such as coverage of expenses, insurance protection and job security.

Another way the Foundation raises awareness about organ donation and showcases the success of transplantation is by sponsoring the U.S. Transplant Games. This five-day athletic event brings together transplant recipients, living donors and donor families to celebrate a second chance at life. During the Games, transplant athletes compete in a variety of sports. Living donors and donor families are also honored. Judy Payne is a living donor who gave one of her kidneys to a complete stranger. She will be competing at her first Games. When asked why she became a donor she answered, "It didn't seem to be that hard of a decision, I like to give to others, I like to share what I can of my blessings."

The National Kidney Foundation, Inc. is the major voluntary health organization dedicated to preventing kidney disease, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease, and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.

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.