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.

Emory Transplant Center First in Nation to Earn Patient-Centered Specialty Practice Recognition

Transplant Center NCQAEmory Transplant Center has been recognized as the first transplant center in the nation to receive the Patient-Centered Specialty Practice Level 3 recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). A level 3 status is the highest level of recognition a specialty practice can receive.

“We are so proud of this major accomplishment by the Emory transplant team,” says Thomas Pearson, MD, DPhil, Professor of Surgery, Division of Transplantation and Executive Director of the Emory Transplant Center. “Delivering patient-centered care has always been our mission, so to receive the highest level of recognition from the NCQA is especially rewarding.”

What exactly is the Patient-Centered Specialty Practice recognition?

The NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. After developing the Patient-Centered Medical Home model for primary care, the NCQA has extended the medical home concept to specialists. The Patient-Centered Specialty Practice model bridges specialty care and primary care coordination – combining teamwork and information technology to improve patient care and the overall patient experience.

To earn the NCQA Patient-Centered Specialty Practice recognition, specialists must:

  • Establish formal and informal agreements with referring clinicians to exchange key information.
  • Maximize teamwork among care team members, including patients, families, and caregivers.
  • Provide timely access to care and clinical advice based on patient need.
  • Use a systematic approach to track patient information and coordinate care.
  • Include patients and family/caregivers in care planning and management.
  • Continually measure performance and patient experience to identify ways to improve.

What does it mean for our transplant center patients?

Earning NCQA Patient-Centered Specialty Practice recognition shows our patients, consumers, private payers and government agencies that Emory Transplant Center has undergone a rigorous review of its capabilities and is committed to sharing information and coordinating care. Recognition also signals to primary care practices that the specialty practice is an effective partner in caring for patients.

“This 14-month project allowed us to evaluate in detail how our center works, from the point of view of patients and referring clinicians,” says Pearson. “We look forward to utilizing what we’ve learned to continuously improve in areas such as communicating with our referring providers, tracking and managing patient care, providing access to care, and more.”

The recognition lasts for three years, then practices must re-apply for future recognition.

“Coordination between primary care and specialty teams is very important for our patients undergoing a transplant,” says Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, President, and CEO of Emory Healthcare. “Our teams have worked diligently to meet the standards for this special recognition from the NCQA, and we are honored to be the first transplant center in the U.S. to earn this prestigious designation.”

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

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.


NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information for consumers, purchasers, health care providers and researchers.

To learn more about NCAQ, visit www.ncqa.org.

Emory Transplant Center Physicians Named 2017 Atlanta Top Doctors

Top Doctors 2017Emory Transplant Center is proud to acknowledge the transplant physicians that made Atlanta magazine’s 2017 Atlanta Top Doctors listing.

  • Seth Force, MD – lung transplant
  • Raymond Lynch, MD – liver transplant
  • Jeffrey Miller, MD – heart transplant
  • Kenneth Newell, MD – kidney and pancreas transplant
  • Andrew Smith, MD – heart transplant
  • Ram Subramanian, MD – liver transplant

Atlanta magazine’s July 2017 Top Doctors issue features the annual listing of Top Doctors in the metro Atlanta area. We are pleased to announce that of all the health systems represented in the list, Emory physicians make up half of the listing – 50% of 2017 Atlanta Top Doctors to be exact.

These physicians include those who practice at one of our six hospitals and over 200 provider locations, as well as those who hold faculty positions at the Emory University School of Medicine.

We honor, celebrate and thank all of our 2017 Atlanta Top Doctors—and their amazing care teams—for providing outstanding care to our patients and families, and for truly making patient- and family-centered care their priority each day. Congratulations to you all!


To compile the annual “Top Doctors” list, Castle Connolly uses a survey and research process involving tens of thousands of top doctors across America and the medical leadership of leading hospitals. Atlanta’s top doctors are selected after peer nomination, extensive research, careful review and screening by Castle Connolly’s doctor-directed research team. Atlanta magazine uses the research by Castle Connolly to provide detailed information about education, training and special expertise of Atlanta doctors. Doctors do not and cannot pay to be selected and profiled as Castle Connolly “Top Doctors.”

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.

Your Organ Donation Questions Answered – Giving the Gift of Life

Donate Life = Organ Donation

April 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 118,000 men, women, and children are awaiting a lifesaving 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. During our live chat on Tuesday, April 25th, Sharon Mathews, MS, RN, CPTC, Transplant Coordinator of the Emory Transplant Center, answered your questions about organ donation. The live chat had a great turnout, and now all questions and answers are available online for you to review.

Organ Donation Chat, 4/25/17

[Apr 25, 12:01 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Welcome everyone! Thanks for joining us today for our web chat about Giving the Gift of Life, Understanding Organ Donation

[Apr 25, 12:02 PM] EmoryHealthcare: We’ll get started in just a minute. Sharon B. Mathews MS, RN, CPTC, Lead Transplant Coordinator, Living Kidney Donor Program is here to answer all of your questions!

[Apr 25, 12:02 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Please note that all questions are moderated before appearing in the stream, so you may not see yours appear right away, but we will do our best to answer all of your questions today.

[Apr 25, 12:05 PM] EmoryHealthcare: We received some questions that were submitted in advance of the chat, so we’ll get started by answering a few of those first.

[Apr 25, 12:06 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Actually, let’s start off with a few facts first.

[Apr 25, 12:07 PM] EmoryHealthcare: As you may know, April is National Donate Life Month. Emory Transplant Center wants to take this opportunity to raise awareness about organ donation.

[Apr 25, 12:08 PM] EmoryHealthcare: As of today, there are more than 118,000 men, women, and children that are awaiting transplants.

[Apr 25, 12:09 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Every 10 minutes a patient is added to list.

[Apr 25, 12:10 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Sadly, 22 people die every day while waiting.

[Apr 25, 12:10 PM] EmoryHealthcare: If one person donates their organs, they can save up to 8 lives.

[Apr 25, 12:13 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Here’s a question that was submitted in advance: What organs can be donated after death?

[Apr 25, 12:14 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Answer: It’s age specific, but in general, it is heart, liver, lungs, pancreas, two kidneys, and intestine.

[Apr 25, 12:14 PM] Guest3828: Does it cost anything to donate organ and tissues?

[Apr 25, 12:15 PM] EmoryHealthcare: No. There is no cost to the patient or family to donate. It is free of charge.

[Apr 25, 12:15 PM] Guest7371: So many great things have been said about y’all’s program

[Apr 25, 12:16 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Thank you. We are proud of our heart, liver, and lung transplant programs.

[Apr 25, 12:18 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Next question we received. “Are there restrictions around becoming an organ donor?”

[Apr 25, 12:22 PM] EmoryHealthcare: There are certain conditions that may prohibit a person from becoming a donor. The transplant team will evaluate each potential donor and determine which organs and tissues can be donated.

[Apr 25, 12:22 PM] EmoryHealthcare: For example, you can’t be a pancreas donor if you have diabetes. We review every single donor thoroughly.

[Apr 25, 12:23 PM] Guest3828: Can I sell my organs?

[Apr 25, 12:25 PM] EmoryHealthcare: It is illegal in the United States to buy and sell organs per the NOTA (National Organ Transplant Act).

[Apr 25, 12:28 PM] Guest7371: My friend’s mom needs an organ but she’s been on the waiting list for a long time. How can we find someone to help her with liver?

[Apr 25, 12:29 PM] EmoryHealthcare: You may want to search www.unos.org and locate a transplant center that performs living liver transplants. Currently, we do not have an active living donor program here at Emory.

[Apr 25, 12:30 PM] Guest1452: What organs can someone donate while they’re alive?

[Apr 25, 12:31 PM] EmoryHealthcare: One kidney and part of your liver because it can regenerate.

[Apr 25, 12:33 PM] EmoryHealthcare: At Emory, we have a very robust living kidney donor program.

[Apr 25, 12:34 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Family members, friends, and coworkers step forward to become potential donors.

[Apr 25, 12:35 PM] EmoryHealthcare: If their blood type does not match the recipients, we offer the donor the opportunity to participate in a paired donor exchange program.

[Apr 25, 12:38 PM] Guest7371: Thank you. I thought EMORY had a living donor program, I thought EMORY had some kind of exchange donor program, too 🤔

[Apr 25, 12:41 PM] EmoryHealthcare: In a paired exchange situation, a donor donates their kidney to another recipient in exchange for their intended recipient to receive a kidney.

[Apr 25, 12:42 PM] EmoryHealthcare: While you may not receive your donor’s kidney, you receive a compatible kidney from another donor.

[Apr 25, 12:44 PM] EmoryHealthcare: Because these cases may involve a large number of patients and transplant centers, they are called “swaps” or “chains.”

[Apr 25, 12:46 PM] Guest3226: Who is responsible for the cost of the transplant surgery?

[Apr 25, 12:48 PM] EmoryHealthcare: At Emory, our largest chain to date affected 35 recipients who received a lifesaving kidney transplant.

[Apr 25, 12:49 PM] EmoryHealthcare: The recipient’s insurance is responsible for the cost of the donor surgery and donor hospitalization.

[Apr 25, 12:50 PM] EmoryHealthcare: These questions have been great! We have time for just a couple more.

[Apr 25, 12:55 PM] Guest3323: Will donation change the appearance of my body?

[Apr 25, 12:59 PM] EmoryHealthcare: The donor surgery is done laparoscopically, therefore, there would be a few small abdominal incisions. This is one of the things we discuss during the donor evaluation.

[Apr 25, 12:59 PM] EmoryHealthcare: That’s all the time we have for today. Thanks so much for joining us! As we mentioned, we’ll follow up with a blog post to answer any questions we didn’t get a chance to address today.

[Apr 25, 1:03 PM] EmoryHealthcare: As a final takeaway, to become an organ donor, please sign a donor card online at www.donatelife.net and let your family know your intentions.

[Apr 25, 1:05 PM] EmoryHealthcare: For more information about our Living Kidney Donor Program visit emoryhealthcare.org/kidneytransplant. If you’d like to donate go to emory.donorscreen.org. Thanks again!

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.

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.

Former Emory Transplant Center Patient Gives Back via Charity Golf Tournament!

The Swing Easy Hit Hard Charity Golf Tournament held at the Windermere Golf Club in Cumming, GA on April 18, 2013, raised $2,500 to support the patient and family support programs at the Emory Transplant Center. Another $2,500 raised from the tournament will be used to support programs at Georgia Transplant Foundation.

Transplant Center Swing Easy Hit Hard Charity Tournament

Transplant Charity Tournament

Kirk Franz pictured with Kevin Clark of the Emory Transplant Center

Kirk Franz, a liver transplant recipient who celebrated his third-year transplant anniversary in May, was one of the transplant charity event’s organizers. Kirk is the recreation manager for the City of Johns Creek and an avid golfer.

“We really appreciate our golfers, sponsors and supporters who contributed to the tournament and made it a bigger success than last year,” says Kirk. “More than 40 golfers participated in the tournament and we hope to have more players and contributors next year to increase the support we can give to patients and families who are faced with organ transplantation.” He also received support from Drs. Stuart Knechtle and James Spivey, surgical and medical directors of the liver program, respectively. “They supported and participated in the tournament, too,” he says.

The golf tournament was organized in 2010 by Kirk’s family and friends to support his liver transplant fund. Now that he has recovered, he and his family have established a nonprofit foundation to continue hosting the annual transplant charity event to benefit transplant programs at Emory and the Georgia Transplant Foundation. In addition, Kirk and his wife, Shannon, actively volunteer with the Emory Transplant Center’s patient and family advisory council and mentor transplant candidates for the Georgia Transplant Foundation.

“I received so much support from my family, friends and the ETC team after my transplant, that I wanted to find a way to ‘pay it back’ and support others who are faced with an organ transplant,” Kirk says.