By Kevin Longino, Interim CEO, National Kidney Foundation
My name is Kevin Longino and I am a kidney transplant recipient, long-time kidney care advocate and the new interim CEO for the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). As someone who has a long history with kidney disease, I am excited to take on this new challenge. Kidney disease has been a part of my life in some way for as long as I can remember. My maternal grandfather died of kidney failure in 1953. He was only 41 years old. My mother has been living with kidney disease most of her adult life. And when I was 39 years old, I was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerular Sclerosis.
My nephrologist immediately told me I had to reduce stress and begin to follow a healthy diet specifically tailored for people living with chronic kidney disease. At first I was in denial, but I soon realized these changes were necessary if I wanted to keep my kidneys functioning for as long as possible. I decided to leave my corporate career in the computer industry and I adopted an overall healthier lifestyle. And I’m so glad I did. As a result, I was able to postpone the need for dialysis for almost four years. While I was on peritoneal dialysis, I was fortunate to receive a kidney transplant from a deceased donor. That was in 2004 and my latest labs show that my transplanted kidney is still doing well.
I strongly believe that we must raise awareness about kidney disease. Through my personal experience, I know first-hand how early detection and preventative actions can actually slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease. This is why I became actively involved with NKF. I served on the National Board of Directors Executive Committee for three years before my current role as interim CEO.
One of our major priorities is advocating for kidney care, urging legislators to elevate kidney disease to the congressional forefront. It is imperative that we increase research funding, improve treatment for patients and protect living donors. I have met many times with my Congressman, Jim Himes (D-CT), to discuss the impact of chronic kidney disease. This has led to Congressman Himes joining the Kidney Caucus, which educates Members of Congress and the public about the problem kidney disease poses for our society, and co-sponsoring several bills important to the kidney community.
As a kidney transplant recipient, the gift of life from an unknown donor is a daily reminder of the importance of increasing the donor pool and decreasing the number of people on dialysis. You can help us in our efforts. Sign up today to receive advocacy updates and learn how you can take action to stop kidney disease and get involved with legislation relating to transplantation and organ donation. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of kidney patients across the country!