1992 – The Birth of Renal Support Network

Lori Hartwell, RSN President and Foudner, Kidney Talk hostI can remember the exact moment I came up with the idea of starting the Renal Support Network. I was in my car, waiting for a red light on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, by the Kodak Theater, where the Academy Awards take place.

The gridlock was horrible that day, but when you are stuck in Los Angeles traffic you have lots of time to think. (Cell phones were not yet mainstream!) It was the two-year anniversary of my kidney transplant; I was so grateful to not have to dialyze anymore. I had been on dialysis for 12 years and this was such a welcome change.

I suddenly found myself wanting to help fellow patients connect with their peers—to have the opportunity to share their experiences, strengths, and hopes with one another. After all, one friend can make the difference! Thus was born the idea of the Renal Support Network, on April 28, 1992. – Lori Hartwell

1993 – RSN Southern California Directory Established

Renal Support Network Directory, which lists the names and phone numbers of kidney patients who wish to talk with other patients. The Directory, which largely serves the Southern California region has evolved into RSN support group.

1995 – First Annual Patient Education Meeting

RSN’s Patient Education Meetings focus is on educating people with chronic kidney disease (whether pre-dialysis, on dialysis, or with a kidney transplant) and their family members, providing hope for a better tomorrow, and inspiring patients to achieve their dreams. The agenda includes brunch, raffles, inspirational talks by peers in the kidney community, and sessions on related health issues such as how dialysis works, and nutrition. The Meeting is free to patients and one guest per patient attendee and a recommended donation a healthcare professional attendees.

1999 – First Annual Renal Teen Prom

The Renal Teen Prom is inspired by Lori Hartwell, RSN’s President and Founder, who missed her own prom due to being on dialysis for all of her teenage years, and who didn’t want other teens to miss this coming of age event and have the opportunity to meet each other.

Unlike most high school proms, the Renal Teen Prom can be attended year after year. As such, to many of the returning guests, the prom has become a reunion of friends. These friendships have proven to be particularly valuable to those teens on dialysis; as these teens transition into adult dialysis units, the friendships made as a result of the prom allow them to still feel connected with others in their age group who are experiencing similar health-related situations. The prom brings these young people together to share their experiences, strengths, and hopes. It lets them know they are not alone and that ‘one friend can make a difference’. This event is at no charge to attendees and their guests.

2002 – First Annual Essay Contest

Since RSN’s Essay Contest was originally established in 2002, we have read over a thousand essays from individuals that have been affected by chronic kidney disease (CKD). From the first, we knew that we had struck a gold mine of literary talent. If, as is often said, “everyone has a book inside them…” then there should be a substantial library featuring the thoughts of patients with CKD that is awaiting its grand opening!

2004 – First RSN Support Group

Support is crucial when you have kidney disease. RSN’s Support Group meetings are open to people who have kidney disease and their family members and is held the 4th Sunday of the Month in Glendale, California.

2004 – News Magazine Launch

RSN’s KidneyTalk® Magazine (Originally Live&Give, rebranded as KidneyTalk™ Magazine in October of 2019) is written by patients for patients, which is consistent with our overall strategy of patients helping patients receive advice from people who have learned first hand how to live complete, fulfilling lives in spite of CKD. In addition, we have professional guest authors who provide information on how to live successfully with CKD.

2004 – RSN’s Wellness & Education Kidney Advocacy Network (weKAN) Launched

weKAN is a national, interconnected group of patient activists whose common goal is to ensure that people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) continue to receive quality care. Now celebrating its ninth year, weKAN provides patients with the education, encouragement, and tools to ensure that their needs and those of their fellow patients are addressed in the medical, regulatory, and legislative arenas. weKAN gives patients the help necessary for them to succeed as leaders. Patient participation is recognized as a key component in improving quality of care in kidney disease. RSN patient advocates successfully impart the patient’s perspective and ideas on improving care to all levels of the kidney community. RSN strives to develop and help patient advocates so they are prepared to serve at every level and have meaningful involvement to ensure their continued participation.

2005 – RSNhope.org Website Launch

The RSN website was created to serve as a resource center for people with kidney disease, their families and their caregivers. RSNhope.org is packed with valuable information and is a necessary tool and support center for anyone navigating chronic kidney disease. Visitors will find useful information regarding their diagnosis, treatment options, dealing with emotions, life-style tips and a variety of other valuable topics that are carefully and ardently crafted by people living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and healthcare professionals to help people with kidney disease learn to live complete, fulfilling lives in spite of CKD.

2006 – First Bi-weekly KidneyTalk Podcasts Aired

RSN’s KidneyTalk Podcast Show, an online, bi-weekly, half-hour radio talk show has reached hundreds of thousands of people. The project, in a novel medium when it was started, was created as a unique way to help tell people stories and learn from personal experiences. KidneyTalk provides its audience with practical advice on how to live a full and productive life despite the realities of CKD.

2006 – KidneySpace Launch

An online discussion forum to air your questions, thoughts and opinions on lifestyle issues related to diabetes and kidney disease. KidneySpace has since been migrated to RSN’s facebook page where people with kidney disease can communicate with each other in a sociable, welcoming setting.

2007 – Hopeline – RSN’s Peer Support Hotline Launched

Created for people with chronic kidney disease, family members or caregivers. RSN’s HOPEline connects you with another person who has lived successfully with kidney disease and can share their experience, strength and hope with you on what they have done to navigate this illness successfully.

2009 – First Annual Celebrity Charity Texas Hold’em Tournament

Beat the Odds Celebrity Charity Bingo and Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament is RSN’s exciting and fun fundraising event. A-list celebrity guests, RSN members and corporate partners attend this event each year.

2017 Milestones

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