NKF Honors Father’s Day by Sharing Living Donor Stories

Father/Daughter Living Donor Stories of Inspiration and Survival

June 17, 2021, New York, NY ­­– National Kidney Foundation (NKF) celebrates Father’s Day by sharing stories of love, sacrifice and the best gift a child could ever give their parent – the gift of life! Currently, there are nearly 100,000 American’s waiting for a kidney transplant. The average wait time for a kidney transplant can be upwards of three to seven years and could vary depending on the health, compatibility as well as availability of organs. 

The wait was over before it began for Attorney Jeffrey M. Kolansky who had already struggled with heart disease culminating in double by-pass surgery for him in the 1990’s. Heart disease is a risk factor for kidney disease, which affects an estimated 37 million adults in the U.S., but 90% don’t even know they have it. In 2013 he learned his kidneys had been significantly damaged by a recently contracted food borne bacterial infection and later learned he needed a kidney transplant. The Kolansky children both immediately wanted to donate a kidney giving him only two weeks on dialysis prior to his daughter becoming a living donor. In 2020, there were 589 adult children who became living donors in an effort to save their parents' life.

“My brother and I both wanted to donate a kidney to dad,” said Jessica A. Kolansky, consumer attorney for Willig, Williams & Davidson and a living donor for her dad.  “We had the biggest fight of our lives when we learned we were both a match. Ultimately, I won because none of us wanted my brother recovering from surgery right before his wedding. We just celebrated our 7th Year Kidney Anniversary on June 3rd, and I’m just so thankful I could help him. It’s such a blessing to see him healthy, happy, and so quickly get back to enjoying life with our family and practicing law full-time.” 

Approximately 785,000 Americans have irreversible kidney failure and need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. About 555,000 of these patients receive dialysis to replace kidney function, 230,000 live with a transplant. Living donations were responsible for a total of 5,726 transplants in 2020. Living organ donation not only saves lives, but it saves money too. Each year, Medicare spends approximately $89,000 per dialysis patient and less than half, $35,000, for a transplant. 

“Jessica’s generous gift to her dad illustrates how some family members may be a great donor match for their loved ones,” said Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation and a kidney transplant recipient. “Only 1 in 5 people on the waitlist will receive a kidney transplant this year, so finding a family member, friend, acquaintance or even a perfect stranger willing to be a living donor is essential to a patient’s long-term survival because a transplant, not years spent on dialysis, is the best treatment option.”

People of certain racial and ethnic groups are more likely to develop kidney disease than others. Blacks or African Americans are 13 percent of the U.S. population, but represent 35 percent of those with kidney failure. Hispanics or Latinos are 1.3 times as likely as non-Hispanics/Latinos to develop kidney failure. A leading cause of kidney disease is diabetes which is more prevalent in these communities. Everyone needs to know about kidney disease, but especially if you have any one of these additional risk factors: high blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, and family history of kidney disease. 

For more information on kidney disease, visit kidney.org and to learn more about becoming a living donor, visit kidney.org/livingdonation. Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #fathersday and #BigAskBigGive.

National Kidney Foundation Living Organ Donation Resources

THE BIG ASK: THE BIG GIVE platform, which provides nationwide outreach, is designed to increase kidney transplantationthrough training and tools that help patients and families find a living donor. It includes direct patient and caregiver support through our toll-free help line 855-NKF-CARES, peer mentoring from a fellow kidney patient or a living donor, online communities, an advocacy campaign to remove barriers to donation, and a multi-media public awareness campaign. All resources are free and designed to teach kidney patients, or their advocates, how to make a “big ask” to their friends, loved ones, or community to consider making a “big give,” a living organ donation. www.kidney.org/livingdonation.

Kidney Disease Facts

In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it.  1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for chronic kidney disease.  Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabeteshigh blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, and family history. People of Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. Blacks or African Americans are almost 4 times more likely than White Americans to have kidney failure.  Hispanics are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure.

Approximately 785,000 Americans have irreversible kidney failure and need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. More than 555,000 of these patients receive dialysis to replace kidney function and 230,000 live with a transplant. Nearly 100,000 Americans are on the waitlist for a kidney transplant right now.  Depending on where a patient lives, the average wait time for a kidney transplant can be upwards of three to seven years.

About the National Kidney Foundation

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 www.kidney.org.