Dr. Velma Scantlebury-White is no stranger to making history. In 2000, she became the first Black woman transplant surgeon in the United States. Since then, she's participated in nearly 2,000 successful transplants. Beyond the operating room, she's worked tirelessly to educate marginalized communities about the need for organ donors. In an effort to continue these efforts, she has become a key member of the National Kidney Foundation's inaugural Health Equity Advisory Committee. Through this committee, a board of medical professionals will work to address racial and economic disparities within the healthcare system as it pertains to the larger foundation.
"We are very excited about the formation of this important committee because our main goal is to ensure that all people living with, or at risk for, kidney disease have access to the health resources and support they need," National Kidney Foundation President-Elect Dr. Sylvia E. Rosas said.
"This committee will also champion NKF-ASN eGFR Taskforce recommendations to reassess the inclusion of race in accurately diagnosing kidney diseases."
The aspect of race is often not considered when thinking about kidney disease. The NKF has found that Black Americans are three times more likely than white Americans to suffer from kidney disease. Despite making up less than 15% of the population, 35% of all patients in the U.S. receiving dialysis for kidney failure are Black. Making matters worse, kidney disease makes people more vulnerable to COVID-19. For Scantlebury-White, this committee provides a way for doctors with a purpose to address these issues and help those who are often overlooked.
"I became a transplant surgeon because I really wanted to help others and I really wanted to make a difference," she said in a recent interview.
Moving forward, Scantlebury-White advises Black Americans to talk to their doctor, exercise regularly and limit salt intake. She also advises people to visit the NKF's official website for more resources and information.
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