National Kidney Foundation, Baxter Partnership Boosts Patient Peer Mentoring

New York, NY October 22, 2019 – The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has joined forces with Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX), a global innovator in renal care, to highlight and support NKF Peers, a free program that matches people with kidney disease by phone with a peer mentor who has “been there.” This timely partnership launches just several months after NKF’s presence at the Administration’s announcement of a bold new vision for transforming kidney care in the U.S., which includes advancing home dialysis, a potential key benefit for many NKF Peers mentees and mentors alike.
“Learning that your kidneys have failed is scary, and having to make a treatment decision can seem overwhelming,” said Jennifer St. Clair Russell, PhD, MSEd, MCHES, NKF Senior Vice President, Education and Programs. “Patients want to know what it feels like and what to expect. Mentoring does not replace or change the role of a medical care team.  In fact, it can make their job easier.  Still, the best clinician often doesn’t know what’s it’s like to be a patient.”
Trained by NKF, a peer mentor is an adult living with kidney disease and has experience with hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and/or transplant. Mentors are vetted by the NKF Peers oversight clinician to master a range of topics including self-awareness, loss and grief, confidentiality, empathy, active listening, and maintaining a healthy peer relationship.
For eight years, the NKF Peers program has created direct personal connections to help patients adjust to their life with chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is for anyone with either stage 4 or 5 CKD and those who are already on dialysis or have had a transplant. In partnership with Baxter, NKF will expand awareness and visibility of NKF Peers by developing materials about the program for healthcare practitioners to share with patients. In addition, ambassadors from Baxter’s network will embark on extensive NKF Peer training to the increase size of the NKF Peers program.
“We are grateful for Baxter and their commitment to expand our reach to patients who need it most,” Dr. St. Clair Russell said. “The one-on-one connections we provide make a big difference in a patient’s life.  To simply talk to someone who understands their particular challenges and can offer advice and support is critical to patients and care partners. We welcome the peer mentors that Baxter has identified and will keep adding mentors they refer as the partnership grows and matures.”
For Baxter, supporting NKF Peers aligns with the company’s commitment to expanding education on kidney disease and treatment options. “Baxter is committed to providing education, eliminating information barriers, and encouraging conversation among patients with kidney disease,” said Gavin Campbell, General Manager of Baxter’s U.S. renal business. “NKF Peers is an important complement to the resources healthcare practitioners are already offering patients, and we look forward to expanding the NKF Peer network through our multi-year partnership.”
To date, more than 800 NKF Peers mentor/mentee pairs have been matched – often by gender, age, modality and other factors – and all are in various stages of their partnership. Among participating mentees, 96.5 percent would recommend the program to someone in their similar situation. Forty percent of mentees report making changes in their behavior after speaking with a mentor, including in their diet, exercise, mental outlook, making or preparing for an appointment, asking about a transplant or home dialysis options, and more.
By contacting NKF Peers toll free at 855.NKF.PEER (855.653.7337) or online at, a prospective mentee will speak with a social worker who will ask brief questions to find the best match and enroll the individual into the program.  Once enrolled, a peer mentor contacts the mentee within one week.
Kidney Disease Facts
In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD) – and most aren’t aware of it.  1 in 3 American adults is at risk for CKD.  Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a family history of kidney failure, and being age 60 or older. People of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. African Americans are about 3 times more likely than Whites to develop end-stage kidney disease (ESKD or kidney failure). Compared to non-Hispanics, Hispanics are almost 1.3 times more likely to receive a diagnosis of 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