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– Event Kicks Off New Collaborative Initiative in Maryland –

Baltimore, MD — October 9, 2006 — Yesterday, approximately 300 area residents living with kidney failure and their loved ones gathered in the banquet room at Camden Yards to take part in a motivational event about living with, and moving beyond the limitations of kidney failure.

The event, part of a kickoff for a new collaborative initiative formed by the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland and the Maryland Patient Advocacy Group, included featured speaker Shad Ireland, the first hemodialysis patient to compete in and complete an Iron Man Triathlon, along with a discussion led by a panel of active dialysis patients who talked about their efforts to manage their condition while leading full lives.

“We need those living with kidney failure to realize that, while they have to be conscientious about their health, it doesn’t mean they can’t fully participate in life,” said Bobbie Bonhage, director of patient and community services for the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland.

The “Beyond Dialysis” initiative was formed in response to a recent informal survey of area dialysis patients that indicated a growing interest in forming a support group to help improve the lives of those living with kidney failure. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 10,000 people in the state of Maryland live with end-stage renal disease. The event marked the beginning of this initiative, which will support dialysis patients as they take on new challenges, from continuing their education to athletic pursuits.

The event was sponsored by Care Improvement Plus, a new health plan that focuses on the unique healthcare needs of chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries living with end-stage renal disease, diabetes, heart failure, and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

About the Maryland Patient Advocacy Group The Maryland Patient Advocacy Group (MPAG), incorporated in 1998, is an organization dedicated to advocating for the needs of Maryland citizens facing both acute and chronic medical conditions. Through their ongoing work with the Maryland General Assembly, MPAG has been able to assure passage of legislation allowing access to restrooms in retail establishments, ensuring Maryland’s Kidney Disease Program (KDP) meets the needs of its citizens, and providing tens of thousands with kidney failure medication and coverage of healthcare co-payments. In 2002, MPAG created the Guaranteed Available Prescription Program (GAP) to provide those with kidney failure access to drugs on the KDP Formulary.

About the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland The National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, established in 1955, is a nonprofit, voluntary health organization dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases, and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.

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