The American Society of Nephrology presented the President's Medal to Lori Hartwell, founder and president of the Renal Support Network, during the plenary session on opening day of Renal Week 2014. Renal Support Network is a patient-focused, patient-run nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the nonmedical needs of people with chronic kidney disease.

"ASN awards the President's Medal to individuals whose contributions have exerted a profound and positive impact on the kidney community," said Bruce Molatoris, MD, FASN. "As a patient advocate and president of RSN, Ms. Hartwell has advanced the quality of life for countless people living with kidney disease. As a patient, her eloquence, enthusiasm, and good humor have inspired countless medical professionals to continue to search for a cure for kidney disease and to involve patients in all aspects of that search."

Hartwell developed CKD at the age of 2, when her kidneys failed. She was the youngest person in the state of California ever to receive dialysis. Since then, she has spent 13 years on dialysis, has received four kidney transplants, and has had more than 40 surgeries.

"When I started RSN 20 years ago to help my peers, I realized that in addition to good medical care, people who have kidney disease need hope," Hartwell said during her acceptance speech. "I coined the phrase, 'An illness is too demanding when you don't have hope.'  Hope is essential to survival and gives you the fortitude to get up and take all the meds, show up for all the treatments, and be proactive in your care. I have been attending ASN meetings for 20 years, and each year I marvel at how many people are working behind the scenes to improve the lives of those of us with kidney disease."