Emory Transplant Center Coordinator, Juanita Conner – Dedicated to Helping Patients

Juanita Conner, a nurse since 1984, is a Kidney Transplant Coordinator with the Emory Transplant Center. Prior to joining Emory in 2008, Juanita worked in various roles as a nurse and case manager, earning certifications in case management, health care quality and nephrology nursing. It wasn’t until her role at Emory that all of her experience, education and expertise came together.

Kidney Transplant Coordinator, Juanita Conner

Juanita Conner, Kidney Transplant Coordinator
Photo via Leita Cowart, AJC.com

“This work [as a Kidney Transplant Coordinator] allows me to use all my nursing background and skills. I have found my niche,” says Juanita Conner, RN, BSN, MPA, CCM, CNN, CPHQ, CCTC.

Juanita chose to work with chronic kidney disease patients because they have options, and she believes she can help them the most.

“It’s a population I’m passionate about, and kidney disease is an epidemic in this country, especially in the South,” she said.

An estimated 26 million adults in the United States have chronic kidney disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure.

Treatment options for ESRD include dialysis or kidney transplant. Individuals undergoing dialysis may be hooked up to a machine for many hours during the day, multiple days a week. Therefore, kidney transplant is a preferred treatment option because it may allow individuals to live a fairly normal life post transplant.

Juanita earned her certification as a clinical transplant coordinator while at Emory, and educates patients about kidney transplant. She helps guide them through the process of being placed on the National kidney transplant list.

“Our entire team of physicians, nurses and social workers are involved in the evaluation to make sure that nothing is missed and that there are no contra-indicators that would make a transplant more risky,” Juanita says.

Some of Juanita’s patients come to her in the early stages of kidney disease, when education about diet and other factors can help prolong their native kidney function.

“I’m an educator and a facilitator, and I love seeing patients take charge of the information and make informed decisions,” she says. “We get to know our patients very well and it’s exciting to see them reach their first goal of making the list. It’s even more exciting to see them doing well after a transplant.”

Juanita plays the role of nurse, facilitator, cheerleader, advocate and resource-finder.

“Some days I’m tired, but I never wake up not wanting to come to work,” she said. “I love what I do and this is a good place to be.”

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