AAKP logoAmerican Association of Kidney Patients celebrated 45 years of supporting kidney patients through advocacy and education at their convention in Las Vegas, NV, September 26-28, 2014. Attendees came from over 32 states and Canada ranging from pre-dialysis, dialysis and transplant patients; nurses; doctors; and medical professionals from several kidney-related companies and organizations.

The AAKP Convention is the perfect place for kidney patients to learn about their disease and become armed with the knowledge to be an active member of their health care team. Patients and their supporters walk away from the convention more empowered, strengthen and confident in using their voice, their story, to improve the quality of care for kidney patients.

”… We are extremely pleased with the success of the 2014 AAKP Convention and the opportunity to empower and support many patients in their journey with kidney disease”, said Gary Green, Executive Director of AAKP.

Highlights

Chef Aaron McCargoChef Aaron McCargo, Jr. (left) of Food Network's "Big Daddy's House" shared his passion for bold flavors and fun family cooking during a live dialysis-friendly cooking demonstration at the AAKP Annual Awards Dinner. Sponsored by Fresenius Medical Care.

A screening of the film “Perfect Strangers” by Jan Krawitz features a journey of one woman who wants to donate her kidney altruistically. The recipient, a woman she found on an online website has been receiving rave reviews.  Jan says, “…filming this movie has been such a privilege for me to get so close to these people and their journey. It has caused to me to become passionate about increasing the awareness and need for donors. Checkout the film's trailer's here: http://vimeo.com/67921595.

In addition there was an amazing line-up of professionals and doctors speaking on a wide range of topics relevant to kidney patients:

New innovations in kidney disease treatment options; Steps to prevent the progression of kidney disease; MEI’s new online tool to help patients choose the best treatment option; Transplants and living donors; Wellness Center with free health checks including flu shots; plus “Lunch with the Experts” where patients can meet and talk with an expert of their choice one-on-one while having lunch.

Paul Conway “…the AAKP Board of Directors and staff are fully committed to being at the forefront of patient education and advocacy," said Paul T. Conway, President of AAKP (left).  "AAKP will be expanding our national impact on behalf of patients through the execution a highly aggressive strategy aimed at both raising the patient voice throughout the policy process and awareness of kidney disease among all Americans.  We will be moving forward on initiatives designed to keep patients working as long as possible and will be at the table, along with our allies, to help define what successful patient engagement means from the standpoint of patients.  To achieve our strategy, we will augment our relationships within the Congress and GAO, the Executive Branch and across the kidney community with the raw power of patient activism – especially through social media and local action.”

Other points
Since 2011, AAKP has been increasingly involved in public policy efforts designed to educate patients on key national issues and legislation impacting the kidney community.  In 2011, AAKP conducted their first national public policy forum at the William J.  Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas in conjunction with their national patient meeting. This was followed in 2012 by a similar event at the Carter Library in Atlanta.

In addition to adding expanded national policy and legislative discussions to their annual meetings, AAKP has also begun patient education on how patients can be more effective in making their voices heard among their elected leaders in the Congress.  At the recent meeting in Las Vegas, patients received a detailed briefing on national health policy issues and how they can be more effective telling their personal stories through in person meetings with Congressional leaders and through their own social media networks.

AAKP has assembled a very broad range of relationships among elected leaders in both the United States Congress and the United States Senate—relationships that are bi-partisan and that in many circumstances involve elected officials whose knowledge of kidney disease is the result of direct personal experience or through family, friends and or staff.