UKRO Announces Kidney Transplant Recipient as Float Rider in 2012 Rose Parade

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Two-time kidney transplant recipient Mary Wu, an advocate for kidney disease research and organ donation, will represent UKRO as a rider on the Donate Life float.

Kidney transplant recipient and organ donation advocate Mary Wu

Two-time kidney transplant recipient Mary Wu

I look forward to the day when research can make organ donation a thing of the past.

UKRO, a Los Angeles–based nonprofit charity supporting kidney disease research has announced that two-time kidney transplant recipient Mary H. Wu will represent UKRO as a rider on the Donate Life float in the 2012 Rose Parade.

“This is the first time UKRO has sponsored a float rider in the parade, and we couldn’t be happier about bringing Mary Wu out from New York to represent us,” said Ken Kleinberg, President of UKRO. “We support organ donation wholeheartedly, but as Mary herself well knows, there will never be enough donors. For kidney disease, intensive research is the only way to ultimately make the need for transplants obsolete, and raising funds for that research is UKRO’s sole mission.”

Ms. Wu was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure at age three, and underwent more than a year of dialysis before receiving her first transplant at age four and a half. The immunosuppressant medications necessary to avoid rejection caused her many health problems, and when Ms. Wu was almost twelve, she and her family were told that her first transplanted kidney was failing. She was preparing to undergo dialysis again when the grieving parents of a four-year-old chose to donate their deceased daughter’s organs. Ms. Wu received that second transplant—an unusual double-kidney procedure—in 1995. She has since become an advocate for organ donation and kidney disease research, and an active adult member of the donation and transplant community.

“I am very excited about representing UKRO at the Rose Parade, and I’m proud to have been chosen by such a respected organization,” Ms. Wu said. “Kidney research is hugely important. I owe so much to my organ donors and their families—in every article I write, every registry drive I advocate for, and every event where I speak publicly about my life story, they’re there with me. But I also look forward to the day when advances in research can make organ donation a thing of the past.”

Nearly 30 million people in the United States alone are believed to suffer from some type of kidney disease, and millions of others are at increased risk. The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch reported in 2009 that Medicare costs for kidney disease are almost $72,000 per patient annually—more than 25% of the total Medicare budget. Additionally, the American Society of Nephrology states that the annual costs of treating end-stage renal disease (ESRD, or complete kidney failure) are currently $32 billion, with the number of ESRD patients expected to escalate to 785,000 by 2020, up from 380,000 in 2000.

Despite these statistics, kidney disease research remains under-funded.

ABOUT THE DONATE LIFE FLOAT

The 2012 Rose Parade theme is “Just Imagine . . . ” and the Donate Life float continues that thought, inspiring millions of parade viewers and spectators to “Just Imagine . . . One More Day” when donor families are reunited with loved ones, transplant recipients thrive, and living organ, eye, and tissue donors step forward so that life-saving transplants are available to everyone in need. Donate Life’s ninth Rose Parade float entry will carry 28 donor family members, living donors, and transplant recipients—all of them vital reminders to make every day count.

ABOUT UKRO

UKRO (University Kidney Research Organization) was founded by entertainment lawyer Kenneth Kleinberg, who in 1999 was diagnosed with a kidney ailment that to this day still has no known cause. Mr. Kleinberg suffered renal failure in 2001 and was a dialysis patient for the next six years until receiving a successful kidney transplant in 2007. In 2002, with the support of a small group of committed individuals including Dr. Vito M. Campese, Professor and Chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at USC Keck School of Medicine, UKRO was established as a nonprofit organization to provide support for kidney disease research. UKRO is contributing to kidney research primarily—but not exclusively—at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, and hopes to secure contributions sufficient to establish a kidney research center on the West Coast the like of which does not presently exist.

UKRO is a registered charity 501(c)(3), Federal Tax I.D. No. 03-0459723. UKRO was formerly known as University Kidney Disease Research Associates.

To learn more about the organization and kidney disease research, visit the UKRO website.

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Michelle Fairchild
UKRO
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