By Dale Rogers, AAKP Ambassador
It was thirty-nine years ago that I noticed politics for the first time. I got home from school on March 30, turned on the T.V. and was witness to the chaotic aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. It was on every channel, and even at the age of 12 it bothered me a great deal, and I vowed someday to become involved in our political system. That was also the year that my life was forever changed by type 1 juvenile diabetes, which would eventually lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD) in my life.
Fast forward to June 23, 2016. That was the day I received my second kidney transplant. During my stay at the University of Washington, I expressed my desire to help other CKD patients deal with the disease and all its nuances. My transplant nephrologist was very supportive of this desire. In 2017, during one of my many check-ups, he suggested that I attend a transplant summit in Washington, D.C. for transplant patients, put on by the American Society of Transplantation (AST).
It was at this summit that I began to feel the need for political advocacy, and my childhood vow to become an active voter blossomed into full fruition. I had registered to vote when I was 18, but during the summit experienced a growing conviction that my vote and the votes of others in my position really mattered. I discovered the importance of being a KIDNEY VOTER!!! This is when I joined the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) team.
There were more than 250 transplant recipients at this summit. I was not the only one. For the first time, I was able to share my experiences with people that were going through the same things. We were all there to learn and share. One of the highlights was a visit from Bill Applegate with ASTS and representatives from Capitol Hill, including; U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, and U.S. Rep. Paul Ruiz.
They told us they wanted to hear our stories, and they encouraged us to vote for policy changes that could make significant differences for each one of us suffering from CKD. Each one of us, YOU and I can make a difference with our stories and our votes. Thirty-seven million people in the United States suffer from CKD. 1 in 3 people are closely connected to someone with CKD. That is a large number. We can have an impact if we do our homework and we need to act.
CKD is becoming an epidemic. We, collectively, have the power to make a difference and change the status quo of kidney disease care - please consider becoming a kidney voter. The days of thinking you are the only one voting for kidney disease reform is over. Thirty-seven million kidney voters that can stand with you. With this number growing daily, it is time for action. I am a KIDNEY VOTER, are YOU?