Home Month and Year March 2020 Kidney Foundation

Kidney Foundation

Changes Lives as it Fights for a Cure

Joyce Van Deurzen, Executive Director of The Kidney Foundation of Canada in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan and Dr. Daniel A. Muruve, Professor of Medicine, University of Calgary, Section Chief, Nephrology, Medical Director, Alberta Kidney Care South. Photo by Riverwood Photography.

After 56 years, it was time for change. The Kidney Foundation’s new branding reflects the organization’s evolution into a dynamic force in the fight against kidney disease.

“We needed to freshen our look so it aligns with our boldness, our focus on innovation, and being more than a funder but rather compelling things to happen,” says Joyce Van Deurzen, Executive Director of The Kidney Foundation of Canada in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Those happenings include providing bridge funding during a crisis, offering peer support and information, and funding groundbreaking research. The Foundation helps people living the struggle today, teaching them to cope and live full lives despite the hardships of the disease. It also funds the Kidney Kids Camp to allow children with kidney disease to make lifelong connections and learn to see their futures in a different, more hopeful way.
The Kidney Foundation advocates for change in public policy, government and health-care systems to improve the lives of kidney disease sufferers. By shining a spotlight on organ donation and encouraging people to make their wishes to become donors known, the Foundation works to meet the enormous need for donors.

“Nearly 80 per cent of people on the waiting list for an organ transplant are waiting for a kidney. That’s why organ donation is a cornerstone of our mission,” says Van Deurzen.

The system has evolved to accommodate living donors and offers a paired exchange program that is increasing the number of transplants. If a living donor isn’t a match for their loved one, they can enter a pool that will find a match from those facing a similar situation to achieve a positive outcome for both parties.

The Kidney Foundation strives to increase awareness wherever it can, including at WHL hockey games. At 17 games in Western Canada, the people dropping the puck have received or are waiting for a transplant or are organ donors, reminding people to have these conversations with their families. There are also opportunities to donate or purchase commemorative items to support the cause. This season will be the third year for the partnership, and it has raised $460,000 for the Foundation.

Since its inception, The Kidney Foundation has raised all its own funds, relying on individual donations to finance the programs that are changing lives. Kidney March is held the weekend after Labour Day and attracts participants from around the world in support of the fight.

“It’s a destination event and the only one of its kind in the world. It’s the biggest fundraising event for The Kidney Foundation of Canada,” she says.

The three-day event saw more than 600 loved ones, friends, kidney disease patients, volunteers, medical professionals and researchers walk 100 kilometres from Kananaskis to Calgary to raise funds to support families and find a cure. Last year, it raised more than $1.5 million to help fuel life-saving research.

“We’re stimulating innovative research and now Calgary is a world-leading centre for kidney research,” says Van Deurzen.

These programs attract top minds in the field like nephrologist Dr. Daniel Muruve. Many researchers are also treating nephrologists, so what they learn in the labs is quickly translated into clinical practice to help people immediately. The world-class Calgary researchers are mavericks who refuse to yield to barriers in their fight.

“What I love about The Kidney Foundation is that not only do we have a broad vision of reducing the burden of kidney disease to the point where we can prevent it, we are also helping people who are living this struggle,” she says.

By caring for the individuals afflicted today and fighting for a cure tomorrow, The Kidney Foundation, its staff and legion of volunteers are changing lives.