Michigan Advocate to Receive the National Kidney Foundation’s Celeste Castillo Lee Award

Erich Ditschman to receive honor at NKF’s 2020 Spring Clinical Meetings
New York, NY - January 15, 2020 - Each year the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) presents the Celeste Castillo Lee Patient Engagement Award, which was established in honor of Celeste Castillo Lee, a longtime chair of NKF’s Patient and Family Council and leading advocate for patient-centered care and empowerment.
It is the highest honor given by NKF to a distinguished kidney patient who exemplifies the foundation’s mission and Lee’s legacy of putting patients at the center of all aspects of healthcare through their involvement with NKF and community partners.
This year the honor will be awarded to Erich Ditschman, of East Lansing, MI.
“I was surprised and honored when I found out that I would be receiving the Celeste Castillo Lee Patient Engagement Award,” Ditschman said. “For me dialysis is a gift of life, and for the past 19 years I’ve experienced a variety forms of dialysis and two failed transplants, my first from my wife.  I’ve been doing nocturnal home hemodialysis for the past 12 years.  It’s a passion of mine to share what I have learned so that others can find their best life with end stage renal disease.”
Ditschman is an exceptional, tireless advocate and peer mentor for kidney patients. He is an active and engaged member of NKF’s Kidney Advocacy Committee and regularly participates in NKF’s annual Kidney Patient Summit which brings patients and families from across the nation to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill. In 2018, Erich co-chaired NKF’s KDOQI Home Dialysis Controversies Conference which aimed to remove the barriers to home dialysis so that it becomes a viable choice for anyone on dialysis. Erich has been on home hemodialysis since 2006 and he is passionate about the benefits of home dialysis and positive impact on lifestyle.
“Erich’s turned his medical crisis into an opportunity to not only help others, but advance kidney care for all,” said NKF President Holly Kramer, MD. “His contribution really can’t be measured, but this award is a step in that direction, and I hope lets him know our sense of gratitude for his work.”
As an environmental scientist his career focuses on protecting and restoring water resources throughout Michigan. Ten years after starting dialysis in 2001, he paddled the length of the Grand River, Michigan’s longest at 250 miles, to raise money for kidney research, education, and to show that one can be active on dialysis.
NKF Spring Clinical Meetings
For the past 28 years, nephrology healthcare professionals from across the country have come to NKF’s Spring Clinical Meetings to learn about the newest developments related to all aspects of nephrology practice; network with colleagues; and present their research findings. The NKF Spring Clinical Meetings are designed for meaningful change in the multidisciplinary healthcare teams’ skills, performance, and patient health outcomes. It is the only conference of its kind that focuses on translating science into practice for the entire healthcare team.  This year’s Spring Clinical Meetings will be held March 25-29 in New Orleans.
NKF Professional Membership
Healthcare professionals can join NKF to receive access to tools and resources both patients and professionals, discounts on professional education, and access to a network of thousands of individuals who treat patients with kidney disease. 
Get Involved
Join the NKF network of advocates to make a difference for kidney patients. Influence public policy issues relating to kidney health, organ donation, and transplantation. These efforts require the participation of dedicated volunteers who will make change happen in government and across the nation. Go to https://advocacy.kidney.org/ to learn how to make an impact.
Kidney Disease Facts
In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and most aren’t aware of it.  1 in 3 American adults are at risk for chronic kidney disease.  Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and family history.  People of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease.  African Americans are 3 times more likely than Whites, and Hispanics are nearly 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to develop end stage renal disease (kidney failure).
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive, and longstanding patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S. For more information about NKF, visit https://www.kidney.org/