A Legacy of Advancing Kidney Care: Remembering Patient Advocate Brian Hess


Brian Hess, a lifelong kidney advocate, passed away on December 3, 2020.

Despite being diagnosed with kidney disease at a young age and undergoing dialysis for the majority of his life, Brian refused to let kidney disease slow him down. Brian graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma while maintaining his dialysis regime.

Brian was an active member of the kidney community and served on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Kidney Patients since 2014. As a prominent member of AAKP, Brian participated in multiple ASN-led advocacy events including Kidney Health Advocacy Day and Kidney Community Advocacy Day. Brian was an effective and persuasive advocate for improving the lives of kidney patients, funding kidney research, and his contributions advanced major legislation such as the Living Donor Protection Act as well as the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act.

“Brian was a courageous and selfless person who openly rejected status quo kidney care and advocated for innovation and patient consumer care choice because without those, he knew other patients would rarely be able to fully achieve their aspirations and impact society, as he chose to do through patient advocacy," said Richard Knight, President of the American Association of Kidney Patients, and a transplant recipient.  “Brian had deep faith and it fueled his fight for immunosuppressive medication coverage since he viewed the 36-month limit as an injustice to donors, recipients and taxpayers and as an aberration of the American ethos for human decency."     

Through his advocacy, Brian built deep relationships with the Oklahoma and Texas Congressional offices that proved to be invaluable to the kidney community. “Brian was a joy to participate with in Hill meetings” said Ryan Murray, ASN Senior Policy Specialist. “Congressional staff would often skip customary introductions to dive into familiar conversations with Brian. But Brian, the consummate professional and skilled advocate, always guided the conversation back to how the Congressional delegation could improve the lives and care of the 37 million Americans living with kidney diseases.”

Brian left a lasting impression on everyone with whom he came in contact. The passage of the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage Act is just one record of Brian’s tireless work that will make an impact in the lives of kidney transplant patients for generations to come. He will be deeply missed by the kidney community and those at ASN.

Read about the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplants Patients Act here.

Read ASN's press release on this vital change to kidney care.