Living Donor Transplant

Kidney Transplant Disparities

Kidney Transplant DisparitiesA new transplant allocation system designed to reduce kidney transplant disparities for ethnic patients on the waitlist. According to a research study just published in the June 2017 issue of Health Affairs, a kidney transplant allocation system that was implemented in 2014 by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) led to reduced imbalance in national kidney transplant disparities among whites, blacks, and Hispanics who were on the transplant waitlist. This new system resulted in a substantial increase in the kidney transplant rate for blacks and Hispanics in the months following implementation.

The research was conducted by an Emory team of investigators, with lead author Taylor Melanson, from Emory’s Laney Graduate School, and senior author Rachel Patzer, Ph.D., MPH, assistant professor of surgery at the Emory University School of Medicine and researcher at the Emory Transplant Center.

Kidney Transplant Allocation System

The new UNOS allocation system aimed to address the primary factor for determining a patient’s priority level on the kidney transplant deceased donor wait list; in other words, how long they have been waiting for a transplant. Minorities, on average, are less likely to complete the necessary medical evaluation to be placed on the national wait list for a transplant. Prior research has shown that this may be due to a variety of factors including poverty, limited dialysis facility staff to educate patients about transplant and physician bias.

Under the new allocation system, the starting point for calculating wait time was changed from the date of waitlisting to either the first regular dialysis date or the waitlist date, whichever was earlier. The change was expected to benefit minorities because they tend to spend more time on dialysis prior to being added to the waitlist than white patients.

Kidney Transplant Disparities Research Results

To determine the effect of the new kidney allocation system on inequality, the researchers examined 179,071 waitlisting records from UNOS from June 2013 to September 2016 and calculated monthly kidney transplant disparities among waitlisted patients.

Prior to the new allocation system, white patients were more likely to receive a kidney transplant (1.07 percent per month) than black (0.80 percent per month) or Hispanic (0.79 percent per month) patients. After implementation of the new system, the monthly rates changed significantly to 0.95 percent for whites, 0.96 percent for blacks, and 0.91 percent for Hispanics. Thus, average monthly kidney transplant disparities narrowed by 0.29 percentage points (rounded) for blacks compared to whites and 0.24 percentage points for Hispanics compared to whites, with both disparities becoming insignificant.

“The policy change appears to have at least temporarily eliminated racial and ethnic disparities in access to kidney transplantation for waitlisted black and Hispanic patients,” says Melanson. “This is a very positive achievement, but continued efforts are needed to address the disparities that exist prior to the waitlist, including the racial and ethnic differences in completing the medical evaluation process to be placed on the waitlist.”

Nearly 700,000 people in the United States have end-stage renal disease, with care for these patients costing Medicare $32.8 billion in 2014. Kidney transplantation is the preferred treatment for most patients with an end-stage disease because it offers longer survival, better quality of life and fewer hospitalizations than dialysis. Transplantation also costs about 65 percent less than dialysis annually.

“It will be important to do additional follow-up and monitoring on the effects of the UNOS policy to fully understand the longer-term consequences and maintain and improve on the disparity reductions,” notes Patzer. “If the disparity reduction is sustained, the kidney allocation system will serve as a valuable example of how health policy can be shaped to immediately reduce racial and ethnic disparities in our health care system.”

Learn more about kidney transplant at the Emory Transplant Center.

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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.

Emory Transplant Center Ranked Second Largest Kidney Paired Donor Program

Emory Transplant CenterEmory’s Living Donor Kidney Transplant Program was ranked the second largest paired donor program in the country through the National Kidney Registry (NKR). ended 2016 with a bang. Emory’s Kidney Transplant Program was ranked the second largest paired donor program in the country through the National Kidney Registry (NKR). Our last transplant for 2016 set a new record for us at 55 kidney paired donor transplants in a single month.

We ended 2016 with 399 transplants facilitated, an increase of 11% over 2015. We expect to cross the 2,000 program-to-date milestone by the end of this month.

Emory began its Kidney Paired Donor Exchange Program in 2010, and has been participating in the National Kidney Registry since 2012. Paired donor exchange gives patients an opportunity to receive a living donor kidney transplant from a loved one or friend, despite incompatible blood types and positive crossmatches. In paired donation, a donor and recipient are matched with another incompatible donor and recipient pair, and the kidneys are exchanged between the pairs.

According to Sharon Mathews, Lead Coordinator of Emory’s Living Donor Kidney Transplant Program, “Living donation can provide end-stage renal disease [ESRD] patients with a better chance of finding a compatible match and improve their outcomes and quality of life than a deceased donor match. Living donation, especially when facilitated by the NKR, a national paired donor exchange program, can speed the process to find compatible donors for patients and reduce wait times.”

We want to thank everyone for your hard work and support in 2016 – another great year for our Kidney Paired Donor Exchange Program.

In the News: Emory Transplant Center Kidney Living Donor Program

organ-donor260x200Emory Transplant Center has recently made headlines with their Kidney Living Donor Program. Stories featured on FOX NEWS Health and in Atlanta magazine highlight individuals who have given the gift of life through organ donation. One story features Beth Gavin, a medical reporter for FOX5, who altruistically donated her kidney to a stranger that kicked off a string of six transplants. The other highlights an Atlanta police officer who donated a kidney to a stranger to allow his wife to be able to receive a kidney from someone else through paired donor exchange.

A kidney paired donor exchange occurs when a person in need of a kidney transplant has an eligible living donor, but the living donor is unable to give to their intended recipient because they are incompatible. Therefore, an exchange with another donor/recipient pair is made. This kidney paired donation enables two incompatible recipients to receive healthy, more compatible kidneys.

“Emory began its Kidney Paired Donor Exchange Program in 2010, and we have been participating in the National Kidney Registry since 2012,” says Nicole Turgeon, MD, associate professor of surgery, Emory University School of Medicine and surgical director of the Paired Donor Exchange Program. “Paired donor exchange gives patients an opportunity to receive a living donor kidney transplant from a loved one or friend, despite incompatible blood types and positive crossmatches. In paired donation, a donor and recipient are matched with another incompatible donor and recipient pair, and the kidneys are exchanged between the pairs.”

According to Dr. Turgeon, there are currently more than 100,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list. The discrepancy between the number of organs available and the number of people on the waiting list continues to grow. The Emory Transplant Center is the state’s largest transplant center performing the highest volume of kidney transplants in Georgia.

FOX NEWS Health Story 

Atlanta Magazine Story

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Emory Transplant Center’s Living Donor Wall Has 85 New Names

new namesWe are proud to announce that 85 new names have been added to the Emory Transplant Center Living Donor Wall. Spanning one entire wall of the Transplant Center, the Living Donor Wall made its debut in 2007. Since its premiere, we are happy to report that we have had to expand it a total of three times, with additions made in 2009, 2011 and 2013. Today, the wall displays nearly 500 selfless individuals who have donated organs along with the relationship they have to their recipients.

This is just another reminder of how much the Emory Living Donor Kidney Program has grown in recent years. In addition, it is a testament to the amazing life-saving and life-enhancing gifts our living donors make to transplant recipients.

Our Living Donor Wall pays tribute to the individuals named there as tangible depictions of the ultimate gift given to another.

The next time you visit Emory Transplant Center, please take a moment to view the Living Donor Wall and acknowledge those who have given the gift of life.

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Giving the Gift of Life: Former Marine Donates Kidney to National Guardsman

MarineGuardsmanPhotoThe Emory Transplant Center loves to share heartwarming stories that happen right here in our Center. As we celebrate Donate Life month, we would like to honor those who have graciously made the decision to give the gift life. Former Marine, Temple Jeffords, is one of those individuals. He made the decision to donate one of his kidneys to help out a fellow serviceman.

It all started with a plea for help via social media. Suffering with Stage 4 kidney disease, 28-year-old Dustin Brown, Army National Guardsman, relied on dialysis machines to rid his body of waste, salt and water that his failing kidneys could no longer do. Doctors told him a kidney transplant was needed.

Dustin connected with Kristi and Raleigh Callaway. Raleigh Callaway, a Greensboro, Georgia, police officer, received a new kidney in 2014 following a Facebook post publicly appealing for help.

Soon Brown, posing with his wife and five-year-old son, had a similar Facebook post on the Callaway’s page, desperately searching for a new kidney.

Former Marine, Temple Jeffords, saw the plea for help and contacted Kristi Callaway and the Emory Kidney Transplant Program. A few weeks later, 44-year-old Jeffords learned he was a match for Brown.

“I have never thought about donating a kidney to anyone, but when I saw another serviceman’s need for help, I wanted to help,” says Jeffords. “The testing and donating processes are simple.”

Living donor kidney transplants, such as this one, make the wait times shorter for critically-ill patients, while also providing the greatest chances for long-term success,” says Nicole Turgeon, MD, surgical director of the Paired Donor Kidney Exchange Program at Emory Transplant Center.

“I am so thankful for Temple,” said Brown, just days after his kidney transplant surgery. “Brothers in arms are always brothers, no matter what. He is a super hero in our family.”

Watch the story featured on ABC News here.

Watch the story featured on Fox News here.

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about kidney transplant and the Emory Living Donor Kidney Program 

Giving the Gift of Live: Understanding Organ Donation Live Chat- April 12, 2016

organ-donor260x200April serves as National Donate Life month – raising awareness around organ donation and celebrating those who have given the precious gift of life to another. Currently more than 115,000 men, women and children are awaiting a life saving transplant. They are in need of organs, tissue, and bone marrow which can all be transplanted if donors were available, giving recipients a second chance at life. Understandably, potential donors may have reservations about organ donation.

To get the facts and learn more about organ donation, join Sharon Mathews, MS, RN, CPTC, of the Emory Transplant Center for a live chat on Tuesday, April 12th from Noon – 1PM. She will answer all of your questions about organ donation, including how many people are currently waiting for an organ, what organs can be donated, and who can donate. She will also discuss Emory Transplant Center’s living donor and paired donor exchange programs.

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Fox 5 Atlanta Health Reporter Gives the Gift of Life

fox5 atlantaFox 5 Atlanta’s health reporter, Beth Galvin, started a chain of her own this past June when she donated her kidney at Emory Transplant Center for kidney transplant. In her two decades as a TV reporter, she saw many patients with end-stage renal disease on dialysis, and she wanted to help. She also was inspired by a story she covered in 2013 on Fox 5 about Chamblee Assistant Police Chief Mike Beller, a father of five who donated his kidney at Emory University Hospital (EUH). Galvin took a few weeks off from work and donated her own kidney at EUH last summer. Dr. Nicole Turgeon, Surgical Director of the Paired Donor Exchange Program, was her surgeon.

Galvin told her story at the October 24th Atlanta Trends in Transplant conference, hosted by Georgia Transplant Foundation. “I never expected the donor journey to be so emotional and spiritual,” she wrote on her Facebook page before her speaking engagement. “I began the process because I felt my inner compass was pointing me in this direction. Then, I stuck with it because I kept seeing signs I was on the right path.”

Galvin’s donated kidney was flown to the University of California at Los Angeles, where it transformed the life of a 41-year-old man on the waitlist there. He is a married father of two children and a volunteer baseball and softball coach. This was his second kidney transplant, which has saved him from the rigors of 4 a.m. dialysis before going to work. Galvin was one of six donors in a chain facilitated by the National Kidney Registry that ended up with six recipients who received new kidneys across the country.

Read Galvin’s first-person account in the fall issue of Emory Medicine magazine. To watch her story on Fox 5, click here.

Learn more about the Emory Transplant Center’s living donor program.

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The True Meaning of Thanksgiving

In the true spirit of giving, watch this heartwarming story of how an Emory Transplant Center patient, Bret Reiff, received a kidney from a 21 year-old stranger, Carley Teat.

“She is truly an angel in my heart. That’s all I got to say,” says Reiff.

As we reflect on this Thanksgiving holiday and of all that we are thankful for, let’s remember those who have given the generous donation of life through organ transplantation.

To learn more about living donor kidney transplantation, and the Emory Transplant Center’s Kidney Transplant program, visit emoryhealthcare.org/transplant-kidney.

Emory Living Donor Kidney Program Meets Transplant Goal

Living Kidney Donor Transp;lantThe Emory Transplant Center’s Living Donor Kidney Program set a lofty goal to perform 100 adult and pediatric transplants in fiscal year 2015 (9/1/14–‐8/31/15). And we are proud to announce that they achieved their goal.

By July 31st of this year, the Living Donor Kidney Program had just about met expectations, with 85 successful living donor kidney transplants performed at Emory University Hospital, and 12 at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Hospital. The 100th transplant was less than a week later on August 6, 2015. By the end of August, the Program performed a total of 112 transplants. This total included 23 paired donor transplants that had donors matched by the National Kidney Registry in FY15.

Motivated by the challenge to transplant 100 patients in FY15, the team aspired even higher this fiscal year and is now projecting 100 adult and 15 pediatric transplants in FY16. Emory has a vibrant living donor program, thanks to the possibilities offered by widening the potential donor pool and making paired donor matches through the National Kidney Registry (NKR).

“I have to note that we had six ‘non‐designated donors’ from Emory who started ‘chains’ or ‘swaps’ in the NKR,” reports Sharon Mathews, lead transplant coordinator, Living Donor Kidney Program. “Through the selfless donation of these altruistic donors, 25 patients received kidney transplants around the U.S.”

According to Mathews, “Living donation can provide end-stage renal disease [ESRD] patients with a better chance of finding a compatible match and improve their outcomes and quality of life than a deceased donor match. Living donation, especially when facilitated by the NKR, a national paired donor exchange program, can speed the process to find compatible donors for patients and reduce wait times.”

Emory has been a member of the National Kidney Registry’s exchange since 2011 and is the second largest paired donor program in the country, matching a total of 29 paired donor transplants over the last 12 months. The 112 living donor transplants in FY15 is a 35% increase over last year, which had 83 adult and pediatric transplants in FY14.

“I really appreciate how hard the kidney team worked to make this happen,” remarked Dr. Nicole Turgeon, surgical director of the living donor program. “Our patients truly benefit from your teamwork.”

Great job, Living Donor Kidney Program team!