Tuesday, 14 April 2009

International Distinguished Service Medal

Kidney medicine in the UK often gets a bad press in the North American literature. The National Health Service is often demonised as “social medicine” with the resource constraints of a tax funded system portrayed as rationing. It was therefore a surprise when I was first approached to see if I would accept the National Kidney Foundation International Distinguished Medal. When I read the list of past International Distinguished Medal recipients – including Stewart Cameron, Eberhard Ritz, Renee Habib, David Kerr, Hans-Henrick Parving I felt a little like a 17 year old being called up to play for my country’s first team!

The award was made at the National Kidney Foundation’s Spring clinical meeting in Nashville in March. I knew I was in Tennessee because Elvis met me at the airport. He had arrived on an internal flight from Memphis and I have to say looked better than me after my transatlantic journey.

Seriously. It was a real honour to receive the medal at the President’s dinner hosted by Bryan Becker. I was pleased to be able to publicly thank the National Kidney Foundation for supporting the KDOQI and now the KDIQO initiatives that have given us definitions and the classification system for chronic kidney disease that we can now use across the world. The shared language has created a global understanding and helped demystify kidney disease. The structures, underlying principles and values of our National Health Service have since enabled the early identification of over one million people with previously unrecognised kidney disease. A remarkable achievement – but not a time to rest, we still have to identify the missing millions and have to turn visibility of kidney disease into health gain and a preventative dividend. So lots to do.

The only downside was spraining my ankle running in the gym – the family are convinced that I did it line dancing. I know I shouldn’t have packed those check shirts!