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Illinois Kidney Care Alliance formed to educate and advocate; patient vulnerability cited.

CHICAGO (February 4, 2020) – In an effort to highlight the needs of people with kidney disease, several organizations announced today the creation of the Illinois Kidney Care Alliance (IKCA), a coalition of health advocates and professionals, community and patient groups, providers and businesses from across Illinois.

The coalition exists to raise awareness of the needs of people who suffer from End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), a condition also known as kidney failure. The stark fact is that people whose kidneys no longer function properly have only two options for survival: dialysis or a kidney transplant.

“30,000 plus patients are suffering with kidney failure in Illinois,” said Kevin Cmunt of Gift of Hope. “The health and care of these patients is critical to be able to provide them with the opportunity to receive a kidney transplant to cure their disease. We want the public to understand the physical, emotional and financial challenges kidney patients face, which is why our efforts will focus on education, prevention and advocacy.”

Currently, more than 650,000 Americans suffer from kidney failure. Of these, about 70 percent are on life-sustaining dialysis, while the rest are able to survive with a functioning kidney transplant. The incidence rate of ESRD is expected to rise in the U.S. over the next decade – and is higher among African Americans, Latinos and people of color than among whites.

Kidney disease in its early stages often has no symptoms and therefore remains undetected until it has reached an advanced stage. For this reason, some call it a “silent disease.” It is responsible for the death of more people than breast or prostate cancer in the U.S. every year, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

IKCA’s inaugural members include American Renal Associates, the Chronic Disease Coalition, DaVita Kidney Care, Fresenius Medical Care, the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, and U.S. Renal Care. The coalition’s membership will expand as its education efforts continue.

“Patients with kidney failure are an extremely vulnerable population,” said Teri Gurchiek of Fresenius Kidney Care. “A high percentage of patients are either minorities or come from low-income households. Some are undocumented. Many of them are too sick to work. For these individuals, access and affordability are life-and-death issues.”

Added Gurchiek, “We joined the Illinois Kidney Care Alliance to make sure the people of Illinois understand the issues faced by this population. Those issues include access to financial assistance, high out-of-pocket costs, basic nutrition, and transportation.”

For more information, visit the IKCA website: www.ilkidneycarealliance.org