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3.1.2017 Each March, National Kidney Month helps to raise awareness and educate people on the vital role that our kidneys play in living a healthy life. While many Americans remain at risk for developing kidney disease throughout their lifetime, the vast majority do not even know it. The National Kidney Foundation recently launched a new public awareness campaign to help people better understand what our kidneys do and how they keep us alive. On March 9, which is World Kidney Day, Americans will be urged to “Heart Your Kidneys” (#heartyourkidneys). “When it comes to vital organs, hearts get all the love,” National Kidney Foundation CEO Kevin Longino said in a press release. “Kidneys get the short end of the stick… But kidneys are essential to keeping you healthy—when your kidneys stop working, so do you. Trust me, I know,” added Longino, who received a kidney transplant 12 years ago. With more than 26 million Americans currently living with kidney disease, the time to raise awareness, increase access to preventative resources and encourage healthy lifestyles has never been more important. An estimated 1 in 3 adults in the United States is at risk for developing kidney disease – with hypertension and diabetes being the leading causes. Once diagnosed with kidney failure, patients must undergo intensive, regular dialysis treatments or receive a transplant in order to stay alive. Other risk factors for kidney disease include family history, age and ethnicity. “People of African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease,” according to the National Kidney Foundation. “African Americans are 3 ½ times more likely, and Hispanics 1 ½ times more likely, to experience kidney failure.” To help treat and prevent millions of people from developing kidney failure, organizations such as the National Kidney Foundation and the American Kidney Foundation are hosting free kidney disease screenings, presentations and seminars, fundraisers and community walks, among many other events. From a Patient & Community Education Symposium in Portland, Oregon, to a Lunch and Learn in Jacksonville, Florida, there are many ways to get involved in your community. For more information and to find National Kidney Month events happening in your area, please visit the National Kidney Foundation and the American Kidney Foundation event websites. In the spirit of National Kidney Month and patient advocacy, we encourage you to take a stand against health insurers’ attempts to prevent kidney patients from using charitable assistance to pay their insurance premiums – denying access to important medical treatment and care. Join the Chronic Disease Coalition as we continue to fight to protect patient rights for people living with chronic and life-threatening conditions.