This year, several NKF offices hosted their first advocacy days in state capitals, including in Minnesota where Chris Bemis lives. These state capital advocacy days allowed NKF and our 200 advocates to meet with and educate more than 350 state legislators across the country in one week. Chris was one of these amazing volunteers who took time out of his busy life to help improve our policymakers’ understanding of kidney disease. If you are interested in hearing from more of our advocates, click here to watch a new video on NKF’s advocates’ efforts.
-Andrew Fullerton, National Kidney Foundation
Over the past several months as an NKF advocate volunteer I’ve been linking arms with others to educate our state legislators about kidney disease and the urgent need for passage of the bipartisan Living Donor Protection Act (SF 1146) – a policy solution that NKF is championing in both in Congress and in statehouses across the country.
NKF’s advocate Dave Sultzer wrote about similar legislation passed in the state of Maryland.
Like these other measures, the Minnesota bill would protect living organ donors from discrimination by life, long-term care and disability insurers, and would ensure donors can take time away from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act for recuperation without facing penalties. In doing so, the bill would establish parity with the rights already afforded to bone marrow donors in our state.
Part of advocacy is telling our stories. In explaining why kidney disease and the Living Organ Donor Protection Act is so meaningful to me, I shared about my father’s difficult journey with CKD and how it nearly took him from me.
I recalled the glassy-eyed look of confusion that comes when toxins have all but consumed the body of someone who was living a full life just a year earlier. I then shared the joy that I felt in being able to serve as his living organ donor and the second chance at life that my father has experienced in the time since. It remains of the greatest things I have done with my life, and as I told Minnesota lawmakers, I want to see our state’s laws encourage more people to consider this life-giving act.
In March, my dad and I shared our story with lawmakers and staff at the state capital and together our efforts made a difference. Legislators like State Senator David Dibble (D-District 61), were moved to join as a cosponsor of the bill! Senator Dibble also shared his family had been impacted by kidney disease and that he had already been tested as a donor for a family member currently in kidney failure.
I’m confident that our “orange army” of NKF volunteers can make the Living Donor Protection Act a reality in Minnesota
Have you written to your legislators yet? Please help us and share your own story with them. I hope to see you at the state capital for the next World Kidney Day!