By Kevin Longino, CEO of National Kidney Foundation and kidney transplant patient
This weekend marks Memorial Day, a traditional lake or beach weekend with all that this entails. It’s a time when we express our gratitude to the Veterans who have so nobly served us all to safeguard the freedoms we’ve come to count on. But this Memorial Day weekend will be a challenging one for all Americans, and especially for kidney patients.
Policies to protect patients
With the last remaining states reopening in time for the long weekend, it increases the risk to a kidney patient population especially vulnerable to COVID-19 infection due to compromised immune systems and multiple comorbid conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, which increase their risk for COVID-19 complications.
In a detailed letter sent today to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) urged the Administration to address the unique needs of kidney patients as the country reopens. Together, we called upon the Administration to implement a set of recommendations regarding COVID-19 testing, supplies and vaccination, dialysis, elective surgeries, organ donation, transplantation, and drug supplies.
We are grateful to the Administration for all they have done to protect patients during the pandemic, and I hope that the recommendations we put forward will offer an opportunity for safely reintegrating kidney patients into their communities during the reopening phases now taking place.
16 years kidney strong
I’m not only feeling grateful to our Veterans this weekend who sacrificed their lives to keep our nation safe; I am also grateful to a family I will never know who made a sacrifice and saved my life.
I am 16 years kidney strong thanks to a deceased donor family who, despite their extreme grief, donated their loved one’s organs so that others, like me, could live. There is not a day that goes by when I am not grateful to this family for the kidney that has allowed me to live dialysis free for 16 years. I know I advocate a lot for increasing living and deceased organ donation in these blogs and elsewhere, but it’s because I am so grateful. I am also extremely aware that 12 people die every day waiting for a kidney. So, until every kidney patient who wants a transplant can receive one, I’ll keep at it. I hope you’ll stand with me.
Please continue to check our COVID-19 resource page where we post all the latest information on issues facing our community in English and in Spanish. If you have questions or need support, please contact our toll free patient information help line by calling (855) NKF-CARES, (1-855-653-2273) or by email email@example.com. And join our free online discussion forums.
Be well and stay safe.