The American Kidney Fund leads the nation in providing charitable assistance to dialysis patients who need help with the costs associated with treating kidney failure. In 2011, nearly 90,000 people, almost 1 out of every 4 dialysis patients in the United States, received assistance from the American Kidney Fund for health insurance premiums and other treatment-related expenses.
The mission of the American Kidney Fund is to fight kidney disease through direct financial support to patients in need; health education; and prevention efforts.
The American Kidney Fund was founded in 1971 out of concern for a single individual who had been bankrupted by the costs associated with treating kidney failure. In its first year, AKF provided financial assistance to 79 patients who would not have otherwise been able to pay for life-saving dialysis treatments.
Today, AKF has grown into the nation’s leading provider of charitable assistance to dialysis patients. In 2010, AKF helped 101,000 people—one out of every four dialysis patients in the United States—pay for health insurance premiums and other treatment-related expenses.
In 1974, the American Kidney Fund awarded its first research grant to Dr. Samuel L. Kountz, a pioneer in kidney transplantation from Brooklyn, N.Y. Dr. Kountz’s groundbreaking research in tissue typing led to the increased use of kidneys from unrelated donors.
Today, AKF continues to support research though its Clinical Scientist in Nephrology (CSN) program, established in 1988 to improve the quality of care provided to kidney patients and promote clinical research in nephrology. Alumni of the CSN program have gone on to become leading academic researchers at institutions nationwide. In 2010, AKF named the 30th and 31st CSN fellows, Dr. Graham Abra of the Stanford University Medical Center and Dr. Ernest Mandel of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
In 1980, the American Kidney Fund began a major public education outreach program to promote its new toll-free patient assistance and kidney information line.
Today, an estimated 31 million Americans have kidney disease and most do not know it. AKF reaches millions of Americans each year through public awareness campaigns, free health screenings, health education materials, online outreach, and its toll-free and email health information HelpLine, which handled an average of almost 150 inquiries (in English and Spanish) each business day in 2010.
In the late 1970s, the American Kidney Fund began sponsoring professional meetings that explored important developments in the treatment of kidney disease, working with leading hospitals and nephrologists.
Today, AKF provides continuing education to thousands of renal and primary care professionals each year through its online courses. These professional education programs cover a wide range of topics related to advances in kidney disease and treatment, prevention, and the importance of early identification and intervention—all with a focus on improving patient quality of life.