Emory Transplant Team

Emory Transplant Supports ‘Every Community Has Opportunity’ Campaign

Each year during the second and third full weeks of July, Donate Life conducts a two-week outreach campaign where it highlights the importance of organ donation and transplantation in multicultural communities. The campaign, Donate Life ECHO, is a collaborative partnership between the Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT) and Donate Life America. ECHO stands for Every Community Has Opportunity – the opportunity to save and heal lives.

Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation

The Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT) was created to increase organ and tissue donation among multicultural communities. Multicultural communities are disproportionately in need of lifesaving organ transplants – especially kidneys. Currently, 58 percent of the U.S. transplant waiting list is comprised of multicultural patients. Research studies have confirmed that there is a link between cultural perceptions, feelings and traditions related to the decision-making process concerning organ and tissue donation. AMAT has been at the forefront of advocating for and sharing best practices in the donation and transplantation community aimed at closing the donation gap among African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Latino communities.

Emory’s Role in Access among Multicultural Communities

Emory Transplant Center has also played a role in ensuring access to transplantation among multicultural communities. In 2016, the National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities awarded $2.6 million over five years to the Emory Transplant Center and six other transplant centers and organizations in the Southeastern Kidney Transplant Coalition to help reduce disparities in access to kidney transplantation. Georgia and the Southeast have the highest rates of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) of any state or region in the U.S., but the lowest transplant rates. Initial outcomes of the study reported that the educational and outreach program in Georgia dialysis centers resulted in a 75 percent increase in referrals for kidney transplant evaluation, with the greatest increase among African-American patients. The work continues.

Donate Life ECHO Campaign

Multicultural communities play a critical role in America’s transplant system. They save and heal lives as donors; need lifesaving kidney transplants; and serve patients and families as health care professionals. Join in celebrating 2018 Donate Life ECHO. For information on how to be a part of the celebration, visit DonateLife.net/ECHO.

Currently, there are more than 115,000 men, women and children awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant. And since 95% of Americans are in favor of being a donor but only 56% are registered, please consider becoming an organ donor if you are not. To register to be a donor, visit Donate Life Georgia.

Emory Transplant Center

As one of the top 15 transplant facilities in the nation, Emory Transplant Center is at the forefront of clinical excellence and pioneering new transplant therapies. We offer cutting-edge technology and superior outcomes in heart, kidney, liver, lung and pancreas transplantation.

Our patients come from all over the nation seeking the highest level of expertise and a full-service organ transplantation program that only an academic medical center like Emory Healthcare can provide.

To learn more about Emory Transplant Center, visit emoryhealthcare.org/transplant or call 855-366-7989.

Emory Transplant Center Awarded Grant to Improve Post-Transplant Regimens

The National Institute of Health awarded Emory Transplant Center researchers $12.6 million over five years to investigate improved post-transplant drug regimens for organ transplant recipients.

The Emory Transplant Center research team is led by Professor of Surgery, Christian Larsen, MD, Dphil, and includes Mandy Ford, PhD and Andrew Adams, MD, PhD. Leslie Kean, MD, PhD from Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington is also part of the investigative team. The research is a continuation of Larsen’s previous work, undertaken with Emory Transplant Center Executive Director and Professor of Surgery, Thomas Pearson, MD, Dphil, on costimulation blockers – drugs to prevent immune rejection of transplanted organs.

Past Emory Transplant Center Research

Together with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Larsen and Pearson developed a costimulation blocker called belatacept. It was shown in a multi-center clinical trial to improve graft survival and mortality rates in kidney transplant patients, in comparison with calcineurin inhibitors, the standard of care in the past. However, in these studies, acute rejection rates were higher with those receiving belatacept than with calcineurin inhibitors.

Improving Post-Transplant Drug Regimens

The team’s recent research has identified biomarkers on immune cells that may predict the likelihood of costimulation blocker-resistant graft rejection. The current project will examine these biomarkers’ predictive value in non-human primate models of organ transplant, in cooperation with Yerkes National Primate Research Center. The Emory Transplant Center research team will also investigate pathways for targeting immune cells that are resistant to costimulation blockers, as well as cellular therapies and strategies for preserving protective immunity against viruses in organ transplant recipients.

“This research is aimed at extending the benefits of costimulation blocker-based regimens to a larger group of transplant patients, and helping them to have longer, healthier lives,” Larsen says.

Emory Transplant Center

As one of the top 10 transplant centers in the nation, Emory Transplant Center is at the forefront of clinical excellence and pioneering new transplant therapies. The center offers cutting-edge technology and superior outcomes in heart, kidney, liver, lung, and pancreas transplant surgeries. Emory Transplant Center, a part of Emory Healthcare, has performed more than 8,000 transplants to date and all solid organ programs meet Transplant Centers of Excellence quality outcome criteria. The center’s core mission is to provide exceptional care for patients in need of organ transplants while offering access to the latest transplant technology.

To learn more about Emory Transplant Center, visit emoryhealthcare.org/transplant.

Real Patients, Real Stories – Hear from an Emory Kidney Transplant Patient

Devin Gerald, a kidney transplant patient with the Emory Kidney Transplant Program, describes his experience growing up with kidney disease. Eventually in his late teens, Devin’s kidneys started to fail, and he found himself facing dialysis. Devin looked for a living kidney donor for transplant and in stepped his aunt – Regina Kinnie. She was healthy enough to donate her kidney to Devin but there was a problem – her blood type didn’t match his. That’s when Devin and Regina learned about something called the Kidney Paired Donor Exchange Program. Hear their story, and how it has change Devin’s life forever.

Emory Kidney Transplant Program

The Emory Kidney Transplant Program ranks as one of the most prestigious transplant programs in the country. Emory’s team of specialists are highly skilled in the care of kidney transplant patients and living donors. We will work with you every step of the way in your transplant journey.

Experience: Emory performed Georgia’s first kidney transplant in 1966 and has performed more than 5,000 kidney transplants to date – making us a top 10 leading national program.

Commitment to Transplant Research: Emory is at the forefront of kidney transplant research. Our physicians played a key role in the development of Belatacept, a drug that prevents rejection without some of the toxic side effects associated with previously available immunosuppressive agents.

Living Donor Program and Paired Donor Exchange: We offer a well-established living donor kidney transplant program, having performed more than 1,200 living donor transplants to date. Last year, our Paired Donor Exchange Program was ranked the second largest paired donor program in the country through the National.

Real Patients, Real Stories – Hear from an Emory Lung Transplant Patient

Diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis as a baby, Kendra Adderhold struggled to have a normal childhood. Her mother brought her to the Emory Cystic Fibrosis Center for treatment and, until adulthood, things were rather stable. But, after the birth of her son, Kendra’s situation started to change. Her lung function began declining quite rapidly and soon she would need a lung transplant to survive. Hear Kendra’s story as she describes her journey to lung transplant and how the Emory Lung Transplant Program has impacted her life.

Emory Lung Transplant Program

Emory’s McKelvey Lung Transplant Center specializes in the treatment of complex lung disorders and offers the full continuum of sophisticated care involved in lung transplantation. We are dedicated to researching lung disorders and providing the best treatment and care for lung transplant patients.

Emory Transplant Center has the only lung transplant program in the state of Georgia, performing over 450 lung transplant procedures to date. Our goal is to provide patients with end-stage lung disease the unsurpassed care they deserve.

Organ Donation Awareness – 4 Your Life 5K

Emory 5K for organ donation awareness

L–R: Dr. Wedd, Rachel P., Jennifer G.

Emory Transplant Center contributed to organ donation awareness on Sunday, April 23rd by participating in Donate Life of Georgia’s 4th annual Run, 4 Your Life 5K at Piedmont Park. The morning started off cloudy with the threat of rain, but that didn’t prevent Emory’s team of physicians, researchers, and nurses from participating in this important event.

The rain held off as the over 250 registrants crossed the finish line to raise awareness of organ donation and celebrate those who have given the precious gift of life to another. The Emory Transplant team consisted of 15 employees who helped support the cause. They represented clinicians and staff from our liver transplant, kidney transplant, and lung transplant programs, as well as our team of clinical researchers.

Comradery, Awareness, and Passion

Rachel Patzer, Ph.D., MPH, a clinical researcher in Emory’s Division of Transplantation and the Emory Transplant Center, served as captain of the Emory Transplant team. She wanted to pull together a team to build comradery among the Transplant Center staff, as well as raise money for organ donation awareness efforts, something that the Emory Transplant Center firmly stands behind.

Rachel’s work in transplantation is her passion. She has had family members that have been touched by transplant and understands the power of organ donation and how it can save a life.

“I think people who are willing to donate their organs to help save a life are truly amazing individuals – I think it is so inspirational,” says Patzer.

Rachel won 1st place female and placed 4th overall – icing on the cake – second to spreading the message of organ donation awareness.

All monies raised through this annual event are used to assist Donate Life Georgia in its mission to educate Georgians on the need for organ, eye, and tissue donation, and to motivate the public to become organ donors.

And when asked if Rachel is a registered organ donor herself, her answer, “Of course!”

Donate Life of Georgia is one of 50 local non-profit coalitions affiliated with Donate Life America, Inc. and works to spread unified organ donation awareness messaging to Americans about the importance of organ, tissue and eye donation.

Learn more about Emory’s Transplant Center, offering Georgia’s most comprehensive organ transplant program.

VIEW TRANSPLANT CENTER

Organ Donation Hits Close to Home – A Thankful Mother’s Story

Organ Donation Hits Close to Home

D’Sean Bray, Heart Transplant Recipient

In December 2014, Renita Hylton, one of Emory Healthcare’s own, had to quickly familiarize herself with the subject of organ donation. She received the devastating news that her 17-year-old son, D’Sean Bray, was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy that would require a lifesaving heart transplant. “I knew something was wrong. He was always very active, and then he began sleeping a lot. When he was admitted, his heart was only functioning at seven percent,” she recalls. D’Sean needed immediate open-heart surgery to save his life until a new heart would become available. He was quickly placed on the pediatric transplant list.

D’Sean was receiving care from the pediatric cardiology team at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston when the family received news that a heart was available. “I was in disbelief,” says Renita. “I was happy, but at the same time sad knowing how we were getting the heart.”

The donor was 14-year-old who lost his life in a traffic accident. The donor’s family made the selfless decision to have their son’s heart donated.

“We met the donor’s family a few months after the surgery, and we still keep in contact,” says Renita. “The family joined us for the 2016 Atlanta Heart Walk.”

“I saw an instant improvement in D’Sean immediately,” says his mom. “The swelling in his face, feet, and hands went down, and he had color back in his face.”

Where Is He Now?

D’Sean is now attending the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and speaks about the importance of organ donation at community outreach events for Egleston, the LifeLink Foundation, and his college. “I am so thankful he’s recovering and can be just a normal kid. Going through this has opened our eyes to the importance of promoting organ donation,” says his mom.

Transplantation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine, but the need for organ donation is greater than ever before. More than 123,000 men, women, and children are on the national transplant list, with another person added every 10 minutes.

Each April, we celebrate National Donate Life Month to raise awareness about organ donation and honor the donors who have given the gift of life. Research shows that 95 percent of Americans are for being a donor, yet only 48 percent are registered. Those awaiting a lifesaving transplant need organs, tissue and bone marrow. These can all be transplanted – giving recipients (and their families) a second chance at life.

Emory Transplant Center is proud to play a part in transplantation – giving hope to thousands of people with organ failure and provides them and their families with active and renewed lives.

How You Can Help

Want to learn more about organ donation? Visit Donate Life Georgia to get the facts about organ donation, register to become a donor and update your donate profile.

Learn more about Emory’s Transplant Center, offering Georgia’s most comprehensive organ transplant program.

View Emory Transplant Center 

April is National Donate Life Month

Emory Transplant Center Commemorates Organ Donation Month

Donate Life Organ Donation Logo Transplantation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine, but the need for organ donation is greater than ever before. More than 123,000 men, women and children are on the national transplant list, within another person added every 10 minutes.

Each April, we celebrate National Donate Life month to raise awareness around organ donation and honor the donors who have given the gift of life. Research shows that 95 percent of Americans are in favor of being a donor, yet only 48 percent are registered. Those awaiting a lifesaving transplant need organs, tissue and bone marrow. These can all be transplanted, giving recipients, and their families, a second chance at life.

Emory Transplant Center is proud to play a part in transplantation – giving hope to thousands of people with organ failure and provides them and their families with active and renewed lives.

Interested in becoming a donor but have questions?  The Emory Transplant Center along with Donate Life of Georgia has compiled a list of informative facts to help you with your decision to become an organ donor.

Organ Donation Facts

  • Your donation can save multiple recipient lives. Did you know one organ donor can save up to eight lives? Think of the impact you could make on numerous families.  After donation, many organ recipients return to a normal lifestyle. For some, an organ transplant means no longer having to be dependent on costly routine treatments to survive. It allows many recipients to return to a normal lifestyle with family, friends, work and activities.
  • Organ vs tissue donation. Organ donation is the process of recovering organs from a deceased person and transplanting them into others to save the lives of those in need. Organs that can be transplanted include the heart, liver, lungs, kidney, pancreas and intestine. Tissue donation is the process of recovering tissue form a deceased person for transplantation. Donated tissue includes heart valves, bone, skin, corneas/eyes and soft tissue.
  • Live donation of organs.  Called living donation, individuals can donate a kidney, portions of the liver, lung, pancreas and intestines, as well as bone marrow to organ recipients while they are alive. Your living donation can help a family member or friend. Even complete strangers often donate and save lives!
  • You will not be responsible for the cost of donation. Many individuals incorrectly believe that if they donate organs that they or their family will then need to fund the cost of the operation used to remove the organ. It is also illegal to buy or sell organs for transplantation in the United States.
  • Sharing hope out of tragedy. For the family of the deceased donor, organ donation can provide a sense of goodness after tragedy and loss. Donor families often take some consolation in knowing that their loved one is continuing to live on through another person.

Want to learn more about organ donation? Visit Donate Life Georgia to get the facts about organ donation, register to become a donor and update your donate profile. To learn more about Emory’s Transplant Center, offering Georgia’s most comprehensive organ transplant program, visit emoryhealthcare.org/transplant.

Get Involved!

Are you a recipient? A donor family? We’d love to share your journey! Please email us at: communications@emoryhealthcare.org.

Also, join us at the 4th Annual Run 4 Your Life 5K Run/Walk on Sunday, April 23 at Piedmont Park. All funds raised will help Donate Life Georgia carry out its mission.

Good Morning America Pays Tribute to a Transplant Recipient’s Wife

It all started with a Facebook post…Raleigh Callaway, a veteran Georgia police officer and patient of the Emory Transplant Center, needed a kidney transplant. Desperate to find a match as he entered the late stages of renal failure, he and his wife, Kristi Callaway, turned to social media to find a potential donor. Kristi posted a message on Facebook sharing Raleigh’s need for a kidney. The post resulted in more than 900 people contacting the Emory Transplant Center – one of whom was Chris Carroll, a health care consultant and grandfather from McKinney, Texas. He saw the Callaway family pictured on Facebook with their two children holding a sign that read, “Our Daddy Needs a Kidney.” Chris said he felt divinely led to call to see if he could become a donor. On Thursday, September 25, 2014, Raleigh received Chris’ kidney. Both recipient and donor are doing well.

But even after her husband found a kidney, Kristi Callaway continued her mission of supporting organ donations and helping to connect individuals in need of a kidney with donors from across the country. So far she has save 23 lives by connecting kidney donors to those in need. Good Morning America recognized Kristi for her extraordinary work.

Check out the full story and the video here.

 

National Kidney Registry Awards Emory Transplant Center Coordinator for Quick Actions

Dr. Nicole Turgeon (left) and Sharon Matthews (right)

Dr. Nicole Turgeon (left) and Sharon Matthews (right)

The National Kidney Registry (NKR) has awarded Sharon Mathews, Lead Coordinator of Emory’s Living Donor Kidney Transplant Program, with its Grace Under Pressure Award. The NKR’s medical board voted for Mathews and a transplant coordinator from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, to receive the Grace Under Pressure Awards for their careful maneuvers and quick actions that led to a series of successful kidney transplants last summer. The NKR presents this award to an individual or organization that goes beyond what is expected and takes extraordinary measures to accelerate the practice of paired donor kidney exchange, resulting in the facilitation of more successful transplants.

The series of events began in July 2015 when a Good Samaritan donor started the chain in Madison, Wisconsin. The donor wanted to altruistically donate her kidney sometime in a five-day window so that she could recover in time for her college classes to start in the fall. The NKR identified a four-way swap that included a 14-year-old kidney transplant candidate at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Doctors accepted the donor’s offer, Emory’s HLA lab completed physical crossmatching and the NKR finalized the swap logistics. All seemed ready to go.

A week before the scheduled surgeries, the paired donor in position 3 of the four-way swap decided against donating. The planned recipient of this kidney was an adult patient at Emory Transplant Center. So the centers quickly identified a “repair” option — the donor in position 2 could step in and donate a kidney to the position 3 candidate. Emory’s HLA lab performed a virtual crossmatch for the candidate. But then a few days before surgery, the candidate’s donor developed an elevated liver enzyme count and was ruled out. The centers identified a second repair option using virtual crossmatching and quickly solved this problem.

“Both of our centers [Emory and UW-Madison] worked hard to save the entire swap through the challenges that unfolded in the last several days before the scheduled transplant,” says Mathews.
Thanks to Mathews and her team’s hard work and the generosity of the altruistic donor in Madison, the swap began as planned, and the patient at Children’s received a living donor kidney. And at the end of the chain, the Emory waitlisted patient received a well-matched transplanted kidney as needed.

Mathews received the award on behalf of her team at the NKR’s Season of Miracles awards gala in New York City on May 4. “I dedicated my award to the entire Emory team that helped make these transplants successful, and I thanked my husband for his support,” says Mathews. “Living donor swaps/exchanges require tremendous coordination and expertise by our HLA lab, transplant surgeons, nephrologists, anesthesiologists, transplant clinic staff, bedside nurses, and O.R. staff. They all made it happen.”

Hidden Gems: Emory Transplant Faculty & Staff Spotlight

Emory Transplant Center would like to showcase our hidden gems – the faculty and staff that have made an impact in the field of transplantation. Rachel Patzer, PhD, MPH, is an epidemiologist researcher in Emory’s Division of Transplantation and the Emory Transplant Center. Her research focus has been on health disparities and access to solid organ transplant. She is currently the principal investigator of a major National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities study, RaDIANT (Reducing Disparities in Access to Kidney Transplantation) Community Study in Georgia that we featured in a previous blog post.

Rachel’s work in transplantation is her passion. She has had family members that have been touched by transplant, and understands the power of organ donation and how it can save a life.

“I think I want my legacy to be just that I made some difference in peoples lives,” says Dr. Patzer. “The patients who are willing to donate a kidney to help save a life are truly amazing individuals – I think it is so inspirational.”

Watch this video to hear from Rachel and how working in the field transplantation affects her.