The leadership of the American Association of Kidney Patients, President Paul T. Conway and Vice President and Chair of Public Policy Richard Knight, were honored together as recipients of the American Society of Nephrology’s 2017 President’s Medal. The medal was presented by ASN President Eleanor D. Lederer, MD, FASN in New Orleans at Kidney Week Nov.2, 2017.

“Both gentlemen are tireless, effective champions passionate about raising public awareness for kidney diseases,” said ASN President Eleanor D. Lederer, MD, FASN. “Their contributions to the ASN mission in the advocacy and policy arenas are substantial and consequential, specifically regarding the Kidney Health Initiative, Nephrologists Transforming Dialysis Safety, and annual congressional visits.”

Conway and Knight were recognized for significantly bettering the lives of the 40 million Americans affected by kidney diseases through their years of leadership in numerous patient organizations, in support of professional medical associations, and their encouragement of greater patient engagement with the Federal government and the United States Congress.

Conway has managed kidney disease for the past 37 years, including two years of peritoneal dialysis and, for the past 20 years, with a kidney transplant that he received in 1997 from a non-living donor via life-saving transplant surgery at the Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia (VCU/MCV) Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.

Knight has been dealing with renal disease since 1996.  He was diagnosed in 2004 as a mid-career professional, and after two years of hemodialysis, he received his life-saving kidney transplant surgery at the Washington Hospital Transplant Center in Washington, D.C.

Prior ASN President’s Medal recipients have included Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino and former Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington state in recognition of their respective roles as Co-Chairs of the U.S. Congressional Kidney Caucus and their efforts as champions of kidney-related legislation.  Comedian and ABC and HBO television star George Lopez, a kidney transplant recipient, has also received the ASN President’s Medal for his efforts to raise awareness about kidney disease and the need for more organ donors.

“Paul T. Conway and Richard Knight are tireless advocates for the millions of people with kidney diseases, their families, and their caregivers,” said ASN Executive Vice President Tod Ibrahim. “This dynamic duo takes every opportunity to raise awareness about kidney diseases among the public, policymakers, politicians, and the press. In addition, they help lead the kidney community’s efforts to advocate for the highest quality care possible—including increased funding for kidney research—among the legislative and regulatory branches of the U.S. government.”

“The ASN President’s Medal is recognized throughout the world and among kidney professionals as a distinct and high professional honor, and I am sincerely humbled by the decision of ASN leadership,” Conway said when he accepted the award. “Every life has purpose and meaning and I am forever grateful to the brave organ donor whose selfless act saved my life. The fight to advance policies that facilitate, as opposed to inhibit, innovations aimed at aiding kidney patients is noble because the pre-existing and chronic conditions they suffer interfere with the innate human desire to pursue opportunity and to achieve aspiration.”

“I am humbled and honored to receive the President’s Medal from ASN,” Knight said when he accepted the award. “This award represents the gold standard all over the world for service to renal patients. I am blessed with an excellent quality of life because of the work done by the professionals within ASN. I am grateful to be able to contribute to the improvement in the life of the millions of patients who suffer from this disease.  We are all focused on making patient centered care a reality. The professionals within the healthcare community are dedicated to helping patients exceed the limits placed on them by this disease.  I can do no less. We must go forward together – ASN’s leadership truly matters.”