By Tracy McKibben, Chair, NKF Board of Directors As many of you know, I donated a kidney to my mother because she had kidney failure. My mother gave so much to me a...
For the third consecutive August, Voices for Kidney Health patient advocates made the most of the congressional district work period by meeting with their federal representatives and urging their support for several critical policy requests. These in-person meetings serve as an opportunity for newer advocates to see firsthand the power that directly sharing their stories can have in building congressional support for funding that will drive kidney disease awareness, innovation, and research, as well as bills to protect living organ donors from discrimination and expand access to home dialysis.
Protecting Living Organ Donors
In Nevada, Kirsten Uzzardo kicked things off by holding the first meeting at the start of August with her federal representative, Congresswoman Susie Lee. Kirsten walked Rep. Lee through her kidney journey and how it has driven her passion for ensuring that more patients on the waitlist can get the lifesaving transplant they need. This directly ties to our campaign to pass a federal Living Donor Protection Act, which would ensure organ donors don’t face discrimination when seeking life, long-term, or disability insurance and which would remove a key barrier for those weighing whether to give the gift of life.
While 31 states have passed their versions of the LDPA, most recently Nevada, a federal bill would ensure that all existing and would-be donors are protected and that the federal Family and Medical Leave Act codifies these protections.
Expanding Home Hemodialysis
In North Carolina, advocate Jeffrey Greene met with Rep. Valerie Foushee, who has a kidney journey of her own: She helped care for her grandmother when she was on dialysis for 14 years. Jeffrey shared his story of helping his wife after she crashed into dialysis and began waiting for a kidney transplant. For Jeffrey, legislation to expand access to home dialysis to more patients is a personal issue, as it’s a modality that his wife considers for her care plan.
Illinois-based advocate Kimberly Johnson-Evans met with staff for Rep. Jonathan Jackson to talk more about how they can work together to further educate the congress member’s constituents about the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and add more patients to the living donor list who hail from communities of color. Kimberly also shared her background working with people with disabilities and her intense passion for educating guardians and caregivers about how to help those who need transplants get them.
Thanking representatives for their ongoing support
The National Kidney Foundation thanks the following representatives and their staff for working with our advocates to coordinate meetings:
- Rep. Josh Brecheen (OK-2)
- Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14)
- Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-1)
- Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28)
- Rep. Valerie Foushee (NC-4)
- Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6)
- Rep. Jonathan Jackson (IL-2)
- Rep. Susie Lee (NV-3)
- Rep. Joe Morelle (NY-25)
- Rep. Raul Ruiz (CA-25)
- Rep. Mike Simpson (ID-2)
- Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-8)
- Rep. Greg Stanton (AZ-4)
- Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-14)
Big wins are possible with your voice
Start your advocacy journey today by becoming a Voices advocate. If you’re already signed up, consider applying to join our Kidney Advocacy Committee and learn how to hold your own meeting with your Members of Congress soon.
Meeting with your legislator can feel overwhelming, particularly for first-timers, but remembering the basics can ensure your session goes off without a hitch! All you...