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our story

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foundation history

how it all began

In 1949 a small group of Chicago-area parents found their children diagnosed with juvenile kidney disease called childhood nephrosis. As their children fought for their lives, the parents resolved to join them in battle by supporting kidney disease research, and formed the Chicago League for Nephritic Children. They launched their effort by raising funds with doorbell campaigns, walks, and candy sales, and soon began enlisting significant support for sick children across the city.

In the early 1960's, members of the Chicago League for Nephritic Children banded with like-minded organizations across the country to become affiliates of the New York based National Kidney Foundation.  In 1964 the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois received its official charter, and became one of the founding affiliates of the NKF.

milestones in kidney health

75 years of achievements and accomplishments

1949.  Our journey begins as dedicated parents initiate the Chicago League for Nephritic Children

1954.  A monumental milestone is achieved with the first successful living kidney transplant.

1964.  The National Kidney Foundation is established in New York City.

1968.  The Chicago League for Nephritic Children evolves into the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, playing a crucial role in the passage of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, a pivotal step in promoting organ donation.

1972.  Advocacy triumphs as NKFI contributes to the extension of Medicare benefits to all individuals on dialysis and those with a kidney transplant.

1980.  Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) is developed, an option for patients to administer dialysis themselves.

1984.  The NKFI supports the National Kidney Foundation and helps enable the passage of the National Transplant Act.

1985.  The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois hosts the first Gift of Life Gala.

1990.  A new era unfolds as NKFI awards its inaugural research grant, marking the beginning of substantial support for kidney disease research. NKF and its affiliates become pioneers, collectively funding over one-third of all medical research for kidney disease in the United States.

1999.  The first Walk for Kidneys steps off in downtown Chicago.

2006.  The NKFI's free, on-the-move screening program, KidneyMobile®, hits the road.  KidneyMobile® is the first-ever mobile screening unit of its kind.

2015.  The NKFI's Living with Kidney Disease and Transplantation education series expands to five programs, two offered exclusively in Spanish.

2017.  The NKFI support legislation in the state congress that would provide a tax credit to businesses who offer employees 30 days paid leave in order to be a living organ donor.

2018.  The KidneyMobile screens participant number 55,000.

2022.  A significant victory is achieved as NKFI contributes to passing the Illinois Living Donor Protection Act, a monumental step toward ensuring employers and insurance companies cannot discriminate against living donors.

2023.  NKFI aids in passing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act, addressing the urgent need for organ transplants. NKFI is unwavering in its commitment that no one should die while waiting for a kidney.

2024.  Amidst celebrating our 75th anniversary, we honor your indispensable role in the journey of the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, as your unwavering support has empowered us to support over 60,000 individuals facing kidney disease and transplants, propelling us towards a future of groundbreaking treatment, research, and comprehensive kidney healthcare for all. Thank you for being a vital part of 75 years of impact!

the NKFI today

the work continues 

The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois is recognized as a multi-faceted, forward-thinking non-profit, and is proud to partner with a number of Illinois' top hospitals and health care organizations.  Through our community health programs, free screening initiatives, and work in educational outreach, we are able to pursue our mission throughout the state, provide resources to patients and families affected by kidney disease, and ensure communities are equipped to be effective advocates for their own health.

the NKFI of tomorrow

contribute to our next chapter

Patients and families grappling with kidney disease deserve a bright future - and the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois is determined to give it to them. Our resolve is steadfast, and with your support we will help scientists and researchers uncover new, better treatments for kidney disease, strengthen communities, and give patients the help they need.

get involved

Play a part in the work of the NKFI. Explore volunteer opportunities, advocacy, events, and more.

give a gift

Help create resources for patients and families, and fuel the future of research and treatment.

our vision

The NKFI is committed to improving the health and well being of people touched by kidney disease.

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