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On the Path to KIDNEY EQUITY FOR ALL™: NKF's 2024 Progress Report

February 26, 2024, 12:58pm EST

Three people wearing NKF outfits

Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino communities experience a disproportionately high burden of kidney failure but are less likely to receive kidney transplants compared to other populations.1

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) envisions a future where these disparities are a thing of the past, a future where there is KIDNEY EQUITY FOR ALL.

From advocating for policy changes to launching community-based kidney disease educational programs, discover how NKF is working to level the playing field for people receiving kidney and transplant services. 

Why Kidney Equity Matters

Some people struggle to live healthily or access preventive healthcare, especially those in under-resourced communities. 

Others receive subpar healthcare because of how others perceive them.

All people deserve equal access to the best preventive health and kidney care, no matter who they are or where they live.

So, what is NKF doing to make a more equitable future for everyone? 

Learn more about health inequities in kidney care.

5 Kidney Equity Achievements

Here are five ways we are leading the charge towards a fairer future.

1. NKF's Quiz Helps Thousands Discover Their Kidney Disease Risk

One-third of Americans are at risk of kidney disease. Most don't even know it. 

NKF has been working to close that gap with a free quiz explaining your kidney disease risk. 

"Kidney disease is a public health crisis that could affect everyone at some point in their lives," said Dr. Sylvia Rosas, NKF’s President. "Everyone needs to know if they're the 33% of U.S. adults at risk for developing kidney disease."

To date, more than 700,000 people, including 400,000 Black/African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos, have taken the quiz and learned how to protect their kidney function.

But our efforts don't stop there. NKF is working to offer the quiz in Arabic and piloting a program in Michigan to help Native and rural communities learn about their kidney disease risk factors. 

Do you know your risk? Take our one-minute quiz to find out.

2. Removing Race from the Kidney Donor Risk Index (KDRI)

Did you know that the current KDRI formula uses race to help determine if a donor kidney will fail? It's true. The KDRI automatically scores donor kidneys from Black/African Americans less favorably than other kidneys. 

Race is a socially constructed concept. It should not play a role in clinical calculations. Kidneys from people of all backgrounds function the same. NKF is fighting to ensure that the KDRI reflects this.  

As a result of NKF's advocacy, the government has proposed removing the race qualifier from the risk index, a significant step forward. With all donor kidneys treated equally, more will be available for transplantation.

Sign your support for removing race from the KDRI.

3. Assuring Equitable Access to Transplant

In the past, Black/African Americans with kidney disease faced challenges in getting on the transplant waitlist. This was due to an outdated eGFR equation that took race into account. The old equation overestimated Black/African Americans' kidney function. That meant waiting longer to get on the transplant waitlist. 

Recognizing this disparity, NKF collaborated with the American Society of Nephrology to remove race from the equation. As a result, the U.S. now mandates all transplant hospitals adopt a new race-free eGFR equation. 

This significant change promotes greater fairness and accuracy in diagnosing and treating kidney disease nationwide. The results have changed the lives of thousands of people with kidney disease, people like Glenda Roberts.

"I'm a kidney disease patient. When I looked at the old equation that included the race modifier, it elevated my eGFR by 16%. That impacted my ability to get on the transplant list by as much as two years."

The new equation lowered Glenda's kidney function range. Now, she and many others have fairer access to the transplant waitlist and a better chance at receiving a life-changing transplant.

Learn more about the new eGFR calculation.

4. Increasing Screening for High-Risk Groups

People with risk factors like high blood pressure or diabetes are at a higher risk of developing kidney disease. Despite this, many people don't know to get their kidney function tested. To make matters worse, those who do get tested don't always receive proper follow-up care. 

The result? An untold number of people who don't know their kidneys may be quietly shutting down. 

Through initiatives like CKDIntercept, NKF is working to ensure more people have access to possibly life-saving kidney testing.

In St. Louis, NKF helped distribute around 5,000 kidney disease test kits to those most at risk. We also helped local healthcare professionals provide consistent follow-up care to those who needed it. 

The program was so successful that NKF received an additional grant to replicate it in more cities. 

Learn more about CKDintercept.

5. Bringing Kidney Health to Diverse Audiences Nationwide

Every community is unique. That's why NKF has launched community-based kidney health strategies nationwide. Our tailored programs ensure everyone has culturally relevant, lifesaving kidney disease education.

  • NKF's Big Ask Big Give program brings living kidney donation information to Spanish-speaking audiences in Colorado, New England, New Mexico, and Texas. 
  • KEEP Healthy kidney checks were customized to better serve people in Minnesota and Spanish-speaking Texans. 
  • We translated resources into multiple languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Bosnian, Burmese, Dari, Farsi, Kinyarwanda, Nepali, Pashto, Somali, Swahili, and Vietnamese.

Join the fight

NKF is fighting for a fairer future where everyone has equal access to kidney transplants. We need your help! Sign NKF’s Equity Spotlight Petition to help more people get the lifesaving transplant they need.

1 “Kidney Disease: The Basics.” National Kidney Foundation, 16 Nov. 2023, www.kidney.org/news/newsroom/fsindex#what-s-behind-racial-disparities-kidney-disease

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