ROCKVILLE, Md., Sept. 26, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Puerto Rico deals with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) is urging the public to consider the particular needs of the 5,600 dialysis patients who live in that U.S. territory.
"Our hearts are with all of the people of Puerto Rico who have lost their homes and who are living without electricity and without running water," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO. "We are extremely concerned for those who also have kidney failure and can't survive without dialysis three times each week, and who also must have access to prescription medications and renal-friendly foods."
AKF's rapid-response Disaster Relief Program has so far sent $379,000 in emergency aid to nearly 1,800 dialysis patients in the continental United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands devastated by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. AKF anticipates that it will receive a great number of assistance requests from Puerto Rico patients in the coming weeks.
As requests for aid pour in each day, AKF continues to fundraise for disaster relief while processing all disaster relief grant requests within one business day, and has sent a small team to affected areas to assess patient needs. AKF's Disaster Relief Program is the nation's only rapid-response charitable assistance program that is dedicated to quickly and effectively meeting the needs of dialysis patients who experience natural disasters. Charity Navigator has included AKF on its list of highly rated charities that are providing aid to survivors of Harvey and Irma, and AKF has been cited by National Public Radio, the New York Times and USA Today as a trusted source of disaster relief for dialysis patients.
"We have already sent patients every penny we've raised for disaster relief, and we continue to ask the public for donations to ensure we can provide rapid-response grants to all of the dialysis patients who are in great need," said Burton.
In the aftermath of Maria, the entire renal community is collaborating to care for affected patients. The Kidney Community Emergency Response Coalition (KCER) has mobilized to evacuate some patients from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to locations in the United States where they can have dialysis treatment. Efforts are underway to get desperately needed water and fuel to dialysis clinics in Puerto Rico so that the clinics can run generators and also may deliver supplies to patients who are on peritoneal dialysis.
AKF's program plays a vital role in that effort by offering grants to patients who need to pay for a variety of needs such as medications, food, emergency housing, clothing and transportation to dialysis. AKF is working with KCER to monitor and assess patient needs.
AKF has so far raised a total of $287,000 from the generosity of the general public, corporations, associations and employee/member giving campaigns, and has also invested from its own resources to support the growing need. Major support has been provided by:
- Akebia Therapeutics, Inc.
- Alliant Health Solutions
- Amgen Foundation
- American Renal Associates
- American Medical Technologists
- American Society of Nephrology
- American Society of Pediatric Nephrology
- DaVita Healthcare Partners
- Dialysis Clinic, Inc.
- Fresenius Medical Care
- Keryx Biopharmaceuticals
- National Renal Administrators Association
- OPKO Renal
- Relypsa, Inc.
- U.S. Renal Care
Patients are using AKF disaster assistance in different ways, depending whether they were affected by flooding and other storm damage or by power outages. About 54 percent of patients affected by Hurricane Harvey have used AKF assistance to replace clothing and household items lost to flooding. Twenty-six percent are using the funding for transportation to dialysis and emergency housing. Another 20 percent are using AKF funding to pay for food and medicine. Of those patients affected by Hurricane Irma, 70 percent are using AKF's assistance to replace renal-friendly food lost to power outages.
Individuals wishing to contribute to AKF's Disaster Relief Program may visit kidneyfund.org/hurricane, where they may designate whether their contribution should go to relief for Harvey, Irma, Maria, or the area of greatest need. One hundred percent of contributions are going to dialysis patients affected by the hurricanes.
Any dialysis patient affected by the recent hurricanes who needs emergency assistance may speak to the social worker at their dialysis clinic for information on how to apply for help from AKF, or may call AKF at 1.800.795.3226 for information.
AKF's website is providing information resources for dialysis patients in the aftermath of the storms, including a list of dialysis clinic hotlines; links to FEMA and Red Cross resources; and information about finding open pharmacies and other resources. Patients may find this information at www.kidneyfund.org/disaster-relief-resources.
About the American Kidney Fund
As the nation's leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans with kidney disease, the American Kidney Fund is dedicated to ensuring that every kidney patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. AKF provides a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention outreach, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance enabling 1 in 5 U.S. dialysis patients to access lifesaving medical care, including dialysis and transplantation. AKF's Disaster Relief Program has been a lifeline of critically needed assistance for dialysis patients for many years, helping people in the aftermath of the nation's most devastating disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Sandy, Matthew and many more.
AKF holds the highest ratings from the nation's charity watchdog groups, including Charity Navigator, which includes AKF on its "top 10" list of nonprofits with the longest track records of outstanding stewardship of the donated dollar.
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SOURCE American Kidney Fund