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Women and Kidney Disease

Waiting and being patient aren’t always easy virtues. Think of when you’re sitting at a red light and you find yourself becoming impatient and tapping your fingers on the steering wheel. Or, how about when you are at the Starbucks drive-thru and all you can think about is getting your coffee handed to you so you can be on your way and off to your next task. Now imagine joining the over 90,000 Americans who are waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant and all of a sudden all of the other waiting scenarios in life seem trivial. The wait is real – the list is long – and we need to work together to change this.

March is an important month for kidney awareness. It is National Kidney Month and on March 8th we celebrated World Kidney Day, as well as International Women’s Day. It is wonderful to see all of the organizations raising awareness in their own unique ways and shining a light on kidneys and the importance of organ donation.

I was drawn to the American Kidney Fund’s March campaign which is highlighting women and kidney disease. They are doing so because, “kidney disease affects women differently. It is somewhat more common in women, it poses special risks to women, and when it comes to caring for others, women are often the primary caregivers for loved ones fighting this disease, and women are more likely to be living kidney donors.”

I thought it would be significant to join the American Kidney Fund (AKF) this March to “empower, fight for and honor the women of strength in our lives who are affected by kidney disease. Whether they’re fighting kidney disease themselves or caring for loved ones with kidney disease, let’s stand with and for them to EMPOWER. FIGHT. HONOR.” This really spoke to me and got me thinking about the women in my life. I’d like to specifically honor two of them.

I would like to honor my mother, Pam Cover. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) runs rampant in our family. My mom has PKD and has watched many family members pass away from the disease. She cared for her mother who passed from PKD at 53. Then my mom had two children (myself and my brother) and we both have PKD. She is not only living with the disease but is an incredible caregiver to me as well. My mother is a perfect example of a woman of strength who is deeply affected by kidney disease.



I would also like to honor my living kidney donor, Sally Robertson. She donated her kidney to me over 15 years ago when she was 40. Sally has five children, a fulltime job and is doing great. Her selfless gift has inspired me to lead a purposeful journey of giving back.


Interesting facts from the American Kidney Fund:

– Kidney disease affects more than 30 million Americans.

– 115,000 men, women and children await lifesaving organ transplants.

– In 2017, 63% of living kidney donors were women.

– Since 1988, women have accounted for 60% of all living kidney donations.

– 66% of caregivers are women.

– 1 in 3 adults in the US are at risk of developing kidney disease and it’s currently the 8th leading cause of death in women, worldwide.

I never heard some of these statistics before and appreciate the American Kidney Fund sharing them and celebrating women this month. I want to acknowledge, celebrate and honor all of the strong women fighting kidney disease, caring for a kidney disease patient, those waiting for a second chance, and those who have given someone the gift of life. Thank you to all of the extraordinary women out there making a difference in this world and the men who support us.

“You find hope the same way you find happiness. You give it to someone else and borrow a little of it back.” – Robert Brault

Let’s EMPOWER ourselves by working together to be the best patients and advocates for kidney disease. Let’s FIGHT together to lead the best quality of life and create a brighter and healthier future for generations to come. Let’s HONOR our loved ones and donors by how we lead our lives with gratitude, positivity, and purpose.

Who would you like to celebrate in honor of National Kidney Month? Please tell us about the special women and men in your life.

What does EMPOWER. FIGHT. HONOR. mean to you?

Valen Cover Keefer