THE HOPE AFFAIR: American Kidney Fund's gala celebrates fight against kidney disease

- The American Kidney Fund celebrated its 45th anniversary at the organization’s annual gala in Washington D.C. Wednesday night.

It was 45 years ago that a group of friends came together to help a patient pay for lifesaving kidney treatment. Since then, the American Kidney Fund has helped more than a million people with financial assistance for medical care, dialysis and getting on an organ transplant list.

“It absolutely saved my life and I wouldn’t have been able to get my kidney transplant without the American Kidney Fund’s health insurance premium program,” said David White.

When he was diagnosed with kidney failure, he was shocked and in denial. He said at first, he was a terrible patient. But he received much-needed support and help and eventually received a lifesaving transplant.

White was honored Wednesday night and received the 2016 Hero of Hope award after he has dedicated his life to giving back.

“New Year’s Day 2011, I couldn’t do a single pushup,” he said. “That year, I wound up doing over 15,000 pushups, so I was really serious about exercise and things just started taking off from there. I started advocating for myself as a patient and once I saw the good results and saw that I could do the same thing for other patients, I decided to do that for a career.”

White said there are more than 100,000 people on the waiting list for a kidney. Between 15 and 20 people will die every day waiting for a transplant.

FOX 5 photojournalist Indira LeVine's social media post about her planned kidney donation has gone viral. She is part of a kidney exchange and will donate so her father can receive a kidney that will save his life.

“I know it is going to give my little brothers the chance to be with my dad for the rest of his life and they are going to have the life I had with him and that makes this worth it,” said LeVine.

She has trained and lost more than a hundred pounds to be healthy enough to help her dad. She encourages everyone to be more mindful of their health, particularly those at risk for kidney disease and other serious illnesses.

“Go to the doctor,” she said. “If you have a health issue – you are on diabetes medicine, you are thyroid medicine – go to the gym. Try to make a difference. Try to do something if you can fix it.”

This event, which was hosted by FOX 5's Shawn Yancy, was not only a celebration, but a means to spread awareness, raise funds and thank those willing to give the gift of life.

“You will save a life and at least one person will be very grateful, but that person’s friends and family will be grateful and you will be a hero to everyone you know,” said White.

Online:

www.kidneyfund.org

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