In 1971, the American Kidney Fund was established to pay for dialysis for people who otherwise would have died. Today, almost all Americans with end stage renal disease (ESRD) have access to dialysis and transplantation. Yet many of the costs associated with treatment remain the patient's responsibility, a heavy burden for many. For 37 years, the primary mission of AKF has remained constant: to provide financial aid for the urgent needs of people with chronic kidney disease.
In 2007, the American Kidney Fund provided assistance to 68,000 dialysis patients in the United States. This assistance took the form of insurance co-payments, nutritional supplements, medical supplies, and direct financial assistance to pay for transportation to dialysis and other treatment-related necessities that insurance would not cover. AKF also launched a Medicare Part D assistance program in 2007. In addition to providing financial assistance to dialysis patients, AKF educates the public about prevention, causes, treatment, and pyscho-social aspects of kidney disease, and promotes organ donation. AKF offers a wide range of brochures about kidney disease, with many selections in Spanish. The Minority Intervention and Kidney Education program (MIKE) raises awareness of the risks of kidney disease in high-risk populations. AKF also maintains a national toll-free HelpLine in both English and Spanish to answer questions from kidney patients, their families, and the general public. AKF strives to enhance the care of kidney patients by offering a series of regional conferences, a newsletter for nephrology professionals and a Clinical Scientist in Nephrology fellowship.