By Derek Forfang, Kidney Patient and Chairman of NKF’s Kidney Advocacy Committee
This morning, more than 100 advocates and I will be headed to Capitol Hill to tell our legislators in Congress that they need to do more to help kidney patients and living organ donors by passing legislation to protect living donors, ensure transplant recipients can afford their life saving immunosuppressive medications, and increase Appropriations funding for vital kidney disease research and programs.
If you are reading this blog post, you understand what it means to have kidney disease or be an organ donor. You know the many challenges that we all face and how important it is to improve the policies that impact the lives of each and every person in the kidney community.
I am excited to be here each year, helping my fellow advocates become empowered by the National Kidney Foundation to make an enormous difference. The Summit helps us learn how to convince our legislators to support us by giving us the tools we need to hold a policy discussion and improve how we communicate our stories. It educates us about the policies that affect us every day and those we need to improve or protect. Most importantly, it allows us to band together as a community to support each other when we meet those who determine the policy that impacts our lives. It is amazing to see advocates go to their first meetings with their legislators, uncertain and nervous, and leave their last meetings confident that they can make a difference, eager to return home and continue spreading the message!
I am also proud to have an opportunity to help the National Kidney Foundation recognize outstanding advocates, like Jim Myers from Indiana, with the Richard K. Salick Advocacy Award. This is the highest honor NKF bestows on advocacy volunteers who are leaders in making a difference for our community. Jim has shown himself to be among the top advocates in the kidney community, helping educate many Hoosier lawmakers about kidney disease and policies. He is an advocate who has not let kidney disease slow him, only strengthen his resolve, since he was diagnosed over 30 years ago.
I look forward to seeing the success our advocates achieve over the next few weeks as legislators join in supporting those policy priorities so near and dear to our hearts. I hope you will join us by writing your legislators, tweeting or posting at them, and even applying to become an advocate for next year’s Kidney Patient Summit!