Thoughts on Juneteenth, From AAKP President Richard Knight

Mr. Knight is a former hemodialysis patient who received a kidney transplant for a living donor 14 years ago. AAKP is the largest kidney patient organization in America with a proud 50 year history of matching patients to companies conducting clinical trials for new therapeutics, diagnostics and devices.

Dear Friends and Allies,

Over the past few weeks, I hope each of us has stopped to reflect on who we are and what we stand for - our common humanity, the ideals we strive for, both on our own and as a nation. 

We at AAKP recognize the disproportionate impact kidney disease has on individuals in the black and brown communities across this country. Our fundamental purpose for advocating on behalf of and representing the interests of kidney patients has improved treatments for those who suffer - but tremendous work remains to be done. 

In recent months, millions of dollars have been invested in COVID-19 research by the Federal government as well as the private sector. As I look at the impact of healthcare disparities on black and brown communities, which has been worsened by the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on these same communities, I am disturbed. I am disturbed because of the lost opportunities - because much of the research and many of the clinical trials have not included kidney patients, despite the strong Federal agency encouragement to do so. We know that the proactive inclusion of kidney patients in COVID-19 research would include a significant percentage of patients from black and brown communities. At 13% of the population, African-Americans represent 32% of patients receiving dialysis treatment.

As a kidney community, we should take heart knowing that, united together in purpose, we have the shared intelligence and capacities to drive many more innovations and save many more lives. To do this, we need more thoughtful patient engagement - which means the inclusion of even more minorities in research, clinical trials, and disease prevention and treatment education. Most importantly, we must be united in our resolve to end disparate care and to expand care choices for all kidney patients because every kidney patient has the right to pursue their dreams and aspirations.

Today, Friday, June 19, marks the celebration of Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, which commemorates the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy—more than two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 

As Americans, Juneteenth gives each of us an annual opportunity to celebrate African-American freedom, promote African-American history, and foster continued African-American achievement. 

As AAKP joins our members in celebration, we thank you for the empathy and care you have for all patients and ask that you keep up the fight for those most disproportionately impacted by kidney disease. Please consider AAKP as a reliable ally in this shared and noble cause.

On behalf of AAKP,

RICHARD KNIGHT

President

For more information about AAKP - please contact Diana Clynes, Executive Director, at dclynes@aakp.org.