NKF Presents Top Patient Award at Annual Spring Clinical Meetings

March 1st, 2022, New York, NY —The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) will present at the annual Spring Clinical Meetings its highest honor to a distinguished kidney patient who exemplifies the foundation’s mission and represents the legacy of patients who have worked tirelessly as advocates for others in the kidney community.

This year’s 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, goes to Cari Maxwell of Lancaster, PA, a member of the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Advocacy Committee, and champion for patient education, early detection, and patient-centered clinical research.

“Cari has followed in the footsteps of Celeste Castillo Lee in putting patients at the center of all aspects of healthcare through her involvement with NKF and so many community partners,” said NKF President Paul Palevsky, MD. “We sometimes forget that advocates like Cari are doing so much to advance kidney care while also dealing with a serious illness – kidney disease. It makes her accomplishments all the more poignant.”

Cari was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in 1989. Through healthy living, she managed her disease on her own for many years following the example of her father, who experienced ESRD in the early 1980s. A registered organ donor provided a near-perfect matching kidney to him, and that gift of life granted Cari and her family 31 additional years with him before he passed away in October of 2018. 

Treatment Advancements for PKD patients are very close to Cari’s heart, not only for herself but also for her two siblings and oldest child, who have autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). She was fortunate to be able to participate in the clinical trial for the first-ever FDA-approved treatment for PKD – a treatment she still benefits from today.

“Receiving this award is a tremendous honor,” Cari said. “It's truly humbling to be recognized among the other fantastic advocates who have received this award. It validates our collective hard work and dedication to those living with kidney disease, their caregivers, and those we've lost to kidney disease. I’m grateful to the NKF for providing the platform and opportunity to get involved in the kidney disease community and to meet the wonderful advocates, physicians, scientists, and other stakeholders who like me are working toward our common goal.”

She hopes that through her commitment to the awareness of chronic kidney disease, others will take an active role in their health journey through early detection, healthy choices, and becoming a strong voice of advocacy for themselves and others. Cari is a wife and mother to three daughters and works full-time as the Director of Culture & Operations for a growing technology integration firm.

“Without the love and support of my husband Charles, daughters Rebekah, Madelyn, and Sydney, and my mother Kathi, my ability to give of my time wouldn’t be possible,” Cari said. “A special thanks are also due to my employer, Candoris, for providing a generous volunteer time off program that allows me to participate with many of the NKF programs and committees.”

“My father, Conrad Nasatka, was diagnosed with PKD in his thirties,” she said. “It was his brave fight and positive example to me that has fueled my passion for speaking up about kidney disease and for the needs and rights of patients. It’s my hope that in some small way my efforts honor his memory.”

NKF Spring Clinical Meetings

For the past 30 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 event will be held in Boston, April 6-10.

About Kidney Disease

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

NKF Professional Membership

Healthcare professionals can join NKF to receive access to tools and resources for both patients and professionals, discounts on professional education, and access to a network of thousands of individuals who treat patients with kidney disease.  

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