Blankets for a Good Cause

Please Help if You Can

By: Pat Hunter

I would like to share a news article in the Knoxville News Sentinel by Kristi Nelson captioned, "Kidney Foundation in need of blankets- Dialysis patients need them when they get treatment."

The National Kidney Foundation is asking for blanket donations, clean new or used blankets, to help out their patients.

Maybe someone will offer to carpool and bring blankets that are collected by your church, civic organization, neighborhood group, family or friends. Blankets can be taken to the National Kidney Foundation, 4450 Walker Blvd., Suite 2 (behind the Kmart on Broadway), 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.



Kidney Foundation in need of blankets

Dialysis patients need them when they get treatment

Ever since the National Kidney Foundation Serving East Tennessee started an effort to give blankets to dialysis patients, the organization has been covered up with requests.

Now it's asking the community to donate clean new or used blankets.

Patients on dialysis have their blood filtered through a machine, outside the body, usually three times a week.

'Over a period of three or more hours, all their blood has been moved through the cool machine, back into their body,' said Jennifer Kuechenmeister, program manager for the NKF. 'This causes many patients to feel very cold, and their body temperature drops drastically. With cold and flu season upon us, this can be very threatening to their immune system.'

Many patients, in end-stage renal disease, are already very thin, she added.

'They get very, very cold very quickly,' she said. 'It's just a comfort thing, something to make (dialysis) a little easier for them.'

But even with periodic 'blanket drives,' Kuechenmeister said, the NKF quickly runs through the blankets on hand. The NKF doesn't have the budget to buy blankets. Neither do many patients, she said.

'The cost of dialysis is so expensive almost $70,000 just for the treatment, which doesn't take into account other medical expenses and the patient's cost of living,' she said. 'Usually, if the patients don't bring it in themselves, they don't have it.'

NKF distributes the blankets to social workers with dialysis centers in 34 counties, who get them to patients. Infection guidelines dictate each blanket go to one patient, who then brings it to and from dialysis.

One of the biggest beneficiaries is Fresenius Medical Care, which operates 15 dialysis facilities in lower East Tennessee. While Fresenius does provide some blankets to some patients, it would be a hardship to buy blankets for every patient, said Jim McCammon, director of operations for the lower East Tennessee region.

'The patients are on the dialysis for about four hours,' said Barbara Standridge, a Fresenius social worker. 'Anything that we can do to make them even more comfortable, we love to offer to them.'

Blankets can be taken to the NKF, 4450 Walker Blvd., Suite 2 (behind the Kmart on Broadway), 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

Kristi L. Nelson may be reached at 865-342-6434.