The story of the NKF began in the early 1960s when Dr Khoo Oon Teik, a nephrologist, witnessed the agonising plight of kidney failure sufferers from close quarters. When his brother became a victim and died from this disease, Dr Khoo was determined to save others.
In 1969, Dr Khoo and a cohort of friends successfully established Singapore’s first dialysis unit at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). The late Encik Yusof Bin Ishak, the first President of the Republic of Singapore and patron of the NKF, officially inaugurated the NKF on April 7, World Health Day. In the same year, Dr Khoo and a group of volunteers organised a film premier to raise funds to establish the first NKF dialysis unit in Singapore. This unit was located in the attic of the SGH.
From 1969, when the NKF was established, and through the 70s and early 80s, thousands of Singaporeans died of kidney failure. Many sold their homes and belongings to pay for treatment, as the charge of dialysis was exorbitant – $3000 a month. Kidney transplants were a remote option and death was an inevitable reality. However, things began to change with the inception of the NKF.