Kidney Disease Addressed at Congressional Black Caucus Health Forum

Washington, D.C. (November 4, 2005) - In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, chronic kidney disease was a key health issue discussed at the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Forum held in September at the Washington Convention Center.

Steve Mitchell, a National Kidney Foundation “People Like Us” patient advocate, addressed the panel to relay his personal experience living on dialysis and what effects a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina can have on a dialysis patient without access to treatment.

“Thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina face homelessness and devastation, but kidney patients without access to dialysis treatment face life-threatening danger in addition to loss of property,” says Mitchell. The NKF has been instrumental in creating a relief resource network, posted on, offering dialysis locations and treatment information, other patient assistance and information for health care professionals interested in volunteering for the effort.

Mitchell is one of more than 275,000 dialysis patients in the United States. He discovered he had kidney disease because of a TV news segment he saw about the importance of having blood pressure checked regularly. Mitchell dialyzes three times a week for four hours a day. He received a kidney from his brother almost five years ago, but lost the transplant due to complications from surgery for a clogged artery. As Mitchell waits for another kidney transplant, he believes that early detection of kidney disease is crucial. According to the National Kidney Foundation, one in nine Americans has chronic kidney disease and most don't know it.

The panel also highlighted how Hurricane Katrina’s recovery and rebuilding process is used to further the goal of eliminating disparities in health and health care. Health care access and health issues such as kidney disease, diabetes, prostate and lung cancer, often have a disproportionate impact on African American men.

Another part of the lecture included racial and ethnic disparities in men’s health and how these directly and indirectly affect the health and well being of African American families. Panelists also presented information about the important role that Medicaid plays in the health outcomes and health care access for millions of racial and ethnic minorities.

People Like Us is an ongoing program that will strengthen and unify the voices of the 20 million Americans with kidney disease so they can be heard in Congress, government agencies and state legislatures across the U.S., according to the National Kidney Foundation.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation. “People Like Us” is the patient advocate component of the NKF, which was established to unify the voices of the more than 20 million Americans with chronic kidney disease.