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To create a world without kidney diseases, the ASN Alliance for Kidney Health elevates care by educating and informing, driving breakthroughs and innovation, and advocating for policies that create transformative changes in kidney medicine throughout the world.

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Celeste Castillo Lee

July 26, 1965 - February 9, 2017

It is with great sadness that the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) announces the passing of Celeste Castillo Lee on Thursday, February 9. Ms. Lee vigorously worked as a patient and care partner advocate and was a strong leader in the field of patient-engagement.

For more than 30 years, Celeste Castillo Lee lived with kidney failure, experienced both peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis, and had a transplant (for 10 years). Ms. Lee was committed to helping health systems, academic health centers, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, and dialysis organizations partner with patients and their families to re-envision the future of health care. She served as a patient advisor, peer mentor and advocate in non-profit health organizations, governmental agencies, and research projects both nationally and internationally.

As a friendly and familiar face at ASN Kidney Week, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and other local and national events, Ms. Lee was tireless in her efforts, which reverberated across nephrology and the greater medical and patient communities. Among other leadership roles, she served as a member of the Kidney Health Initiative (KHI) Board of Directors and as the Founding Chair of the KHI Patient & Family Partnership Council. Ms. Lee was recently awarded the 2017 Medal of Excellence by the American Association of Kidney Patients.

In fall 2016, Ms. Lee shared her journey with kidney failure, her path to engagement and advocacy in the kidney community, and her vision for a health care system strengthened by meaningful patient, provider, and staff partnerships. ASN and KHI encourage you to 1) listen to two recent podcasts recorded with Ms. Lee and 2) view her presentation during Nephrology Grand Rounds at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

"Choosing Hospice" recorded with Lori Hartwell as a part of her series Kidney Talks (December 2016).

"Power of Patient Engagement" recorded with Ronald J. Falk, MD, FASN as a part of the UNC Chair's Corner (November 2016).

"We Are All In This Together, We Are Better Together" recorded during Nephrology Grand Rounds at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine (November 2016).

To honor Celeste’s contributions and involvement in patient engagement, ASN is seeking to establish a Celeste Castillo Lee Endowed Lectureship. Held annually during ASN Kidney Week, the lectureship would provide an opportunity to recognize the patient as an integral member of the research and clinical team.

To donate to the Celeste Castillo Lee Endowed Lectureship, please click here. If you have any questions or would like more information on making a donation, please contact Melanie Robey at