By Judy Rosenstein, National Kidney Foundation Kidney Advocacy Committee Member
I am Judith Rosenstein and I live in New Jersey. During March, I had the opportunity to come to Washington, DC for the 5th Annual Kidney Patient Summit to meet with my congressional delegation. During our meetings we discussed the Living Donor Protection Act (H.R. 1270), a pilot program to promote early detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease (H.R. 3867), and a request to support for appropriations funding for federal programs to support patients, living organ donation, and research.
However, advocating for kidney patients doesn’t end in Washington, D.C., nor did my efforts. On May 14th, I met with Congressman Lance along with several living donors and kidney patients, and NKF’s Greater New York office Executive Director, Meg Gilmartin. We met with him to witness his public announcement for co-sponsoring the Living Donor Protection Act.
This tale begins with an advocate from Pittsburgh, PA. Bobbie Reed’s son, Alex, received a kidney transplant from a constituent of Rep. Lance, John Hyde. Bobbie felt that the Congressman should be aware of the donor’s selfless act. Though I am not from his district, I reached out to a friend who was. Gail Salomon was motivated to become an altruistic donor after her husband David received a kidney from a stranger.
While setting up a meeting with the Congressman’s office to introduce him to John, Gail told her story and so moved the Congressman’s staff that they convinced him to become a co-sponsor of the Living Donor Protection Act. To show his support, the Congressman asked us to join him at his office to celebrate this and learn more about living organ donation.
He told us about a friend from his church who had received a kidney transplant from another friend. We explained the difference between directed donation and altruistic donation and asked him to encourage his colleagues to support HR 1270. He promised that he would reach out to them.
This is the power of a patient’s advocacy and a patient’s story. Will you join me by sharing yours today with your legislators’ office? Will you become an advocate for kidney patients, as I have?