A Mother’s Gift: Mom Saves Son with Liver Transplant

Elizabeth Melville’s 5-month old son, Wesley, was diagnosed with a rare disease call biliary atresia. After a surgery to treat the disease failed, Wesley would need a liver transplant. That’s when Emory Transplant Center surgeons were able to take a portion of Elizabeth’s liver out and then transfer it over to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston to be transplanted in Wesley. Watch this heartfelt story unfold from WXIA 11 Alive.

Emory Transplant Center has a well-established liver transplant program, performing more than 150 liver transplants each year.

Emory Liver Transplant Program

The first liver transplant in Georgia was performed in 1987 by transplant surgeons at Emory University Hospital. Today, Emory Transplant Center is known for its Liver Transplant Program nationwide. It performs more than 150 adult liver transplants each year. Our program has a long tradition of treating end-stage liver disease and portal hypertension, providing the full continuum of lifesaving care involved in liver transplantation.

Emory’s team of liver transplant doctors is highly skilled in the care of liver transplant surgery patients. With patient survival rates that exceed what is expected (SRTR.org), our number one goal is to provide our patients with the unsurpassed, comprehensive care they deserve.

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

Uncovering Misperceptions about Organ Donation

Living Organ DonationDuring the month of April, we like to shine a light on organ donation to support and raise awareness about National Donate Life Month. Organ donation is giving the gift of life. Although it is a great concept, it is a concept that has a lot of misconceptions that affect donation decisions.

Did you know that 95% of Americans are in favor of being a donor, but only 54% are registered?

We are here to breakdown organ donation misconceptions, list the pros and cons of donation, and answer your questions.

Misperceptions About Organ Donation

A recent survey developed by physicians and researchers at Emory University, and published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, on organ donation and transplantation found that misperceptions about the lifesaving process are the most common deterrents for donating organs.

Having concerns over receiving inadequate medical care after an illness or accident, if registered as an organ donor, is the number one deterrent. Other misperceptions include thinking that there is an increased cost for the donor family when donating organs, and the idea of a celebrity or famous person receiving higher priority of receiving an organ.

  • Being an organ donor means receiving poor medical care is a myth. Medical teams that are in charge of ill or injured patients are not part of a transplant team. Their care is solely focused on the ill or injured patient. A donation is only considered after all life-saving options have failed.
  • There is no cost to the donor family if a loved one’s organs are donated. In Georgia, LifeLink of GA assumes all expenses related to organ and tissue recovery.
  • Generally, the rules on receiving an organ vary by a patient’s medical urgency, blood, tissue and size match with the donor, and time on the waiting list. Factors such as celebrity status, income race or ethnicity play no role in the order of receiving an organ.

Pros and Cons of Organ Donation


  • One organ donor can save up to eight lives.
  • For a transplant recipient, this is a second chance at life.
  • For the family of the deceased donor, they can feel a sense of goodness that came from a tragedy.
  • You can donate organs while you are still alive. Living donations increases the existing organ supply.


  • Families might be confused by the fact that donor bodies are often kept on life support while the tissues are removed.
  • The donor does not usually get to choose who the organs go to, and perhaps an organ will go to someone of a different faith, political viewpoint or temperament than the donor.

Your Organ Donation Questions Answered

We would like to thank our experts from the Emory Transplant Center for answering your questions.

What is a living donation?
Living people can donate a kidney, portions of the liver, lung, pancreas and intestines, as well as blood, and go on to live healthy lives. Most often it is relatives who do living tissue donation. It is possible, however, to register for completely humanitarian reasons and give organs to a stranger.

What kind of organs are donated?
Hearts, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone, nerves, and heart valves can be donated.

Can I choose my recipient?
Unfortunately, no (as seen above in the cons). The donor has to believe that all life is sacred and that anyone who receives the “ultimate gift” of a donor organ will be grateful and be imbued with a sense of gratitude and a desire to pay it forward.

How many people are in need of an organ?
Almost 120,000 are in need of an organ transplant and more than 5,400 are Georgia residents.

I have a medical condition. Am I still allowed to be a donor?
Yes, regardless of age or medical condition, anyone can join the donor registry.

If my blood type doesn’t match my recipient’s what are my options?
At Emory, we are involved with the National Kidney Registry (a paired donor exchange program). In a paired exchange, a donor will donate their kidney to another recipient in exchange for a compatible kidney for their loved one. This can occur on the same day. So while they didn’t walk away with your kidney, they received a kidney that was the best match donor possible.

How can I sign up to be a donor?
To register to be a donor, visit Donate Life Georgia.

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

Kidney Failure Treatment Options

What is Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure is the end result of a gradual loss of kidney function. The most common causes are high blood pressure and diabetes. Kidney failure occurs when one loses about 90% of kidney function, and when the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) falls below 15. Those suffering from end-stage kidney failure have two treatment options: dialysis or a kidney transplant.


Dialysis is a common treatment process that helps the body remove waste from the blood. This process replaces the function of kidneys and keeps the body in balance by not only removing waste but preventing salt and extra water from building up in the body, helping to control blood pressure, and keeping a safe level of certain chemicals in the blood. There are two main types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

Hemodialysis replaces the work of kidneys by helping clear waste and extra fluid from your blood. During this treatment, blood is passed from the body through a set of tubes to a special filter called a dialyzer. Once the blood passes through the filter, the cleansed blood is returned to the body through another set of tubes. Hemodialysis treatments are usually administered three times per week. Each session can last from two to four hours.

Peritoneal Dialysis
Peritoneal dialysis is a treatment where a sterile solution, called dialysate, containing minerals and glucose run through a tube into a peritoneal cavity. This cleansing fluid stays in the peritoneal cavity for a period of time to absorb waste products and is then drained out by a tube and discarded. This is a cyclic process that occurs four to five times per day. Types of chronic peritoneal dialysis are determined by various schedules.

Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplant can also serve as a treatment option for many people with end-stage kidney disease. This process involves transplanting a healthy kidney into the body. The kidney can come from someone who has passed away (deceased donor) or a living donor.

One main advantage of transplantation over dialysis is the quality of life factor, as many are able to return to a more normal lifestyle post-transplant. In addition, people who undergo kidney transplantation no longer require hours of dialysis treatment. After a transplant, one’s health and energy should improve. A successful kidney transplant can allow people to live the kind of life before they ever experienced kidney disease.

What Option is Best for Me?

Choosing the best treatment depends on the understanding both the pros and cons for each treatment option. They are different for each person. When making a decision about which treatment is best, talk to a physician, social worker, family, and other people with end-stage kidney disease about the different options you are presented with.

About Emory Dialysis Center
Emory Dialysis operates three state-of-the-art dialysis clinics located across Atlanta. Patients have access to Emory’s world-renowned physicians and clinical staff including nurses, technicians, dieticians, and social workers. We offer a full range of dialysis modalities, including in-center hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, and training services for home hemodialysis. To learn more, visit Emory Dialysis.

About Emory Kidney Transplant
Emory Transplant Center performed Georgia’s first kidney transplant in 1966 and currently ranks as one of the most prestigious transplant programs in the country. Our team of specialists is highly skilled in the care of kidney transplant patients and will work with you every step of the way to ensure quality care and service. To date, Emory has performed more than 4,700 adult kidney transplants. To learn more, visit Emory’s Kidney Transplant Program.


Emory Transplant Center Performs First HIV-Positive Liver Transplant

The Emory Transplant Center performed its first liver transplant from an HIV-positive deceased donor to an HIV-positive recipient. The procedure is not only the first successful HIV-positive to HIV-positive liver transplant in Georgia, but it is also the first in the Southeast.

In November 2013, the HOPE Act, a policy allowing organ donation between two HIV positive individuals, was signed by President Obama. This Act became effective in November 2015, authorizing transplantation clinical trials between HIV-positive donors and transplant recipients.

Previously, organs from HIV-positive donors were discarded, despite the fact they were often well-functioning and capable of saving lives. Through the HOPE Act, Emory Transplant Center and 21 other centers nationwide are taking part in the HOPE in Action clinical trial — a prospective study evaluating the safety of HIV-positive deceased donor kidney and liver transplants in HIV-positive recipients.  Complications that may arise post-transplant are studied too. It is important to note, these organs are never transplanted into HIV-negative recipients.

“More than 7,000 Americans die annually while waiting for an organ transplant, highlighting the critical need to expand the donor organ supply,” says William Kitchens, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Emory University and a liver transplant surgeon at Emory Healthcare. “The HOPE Act makes an important contribution to solving this medical crisis, as previously these organs from HIV-positive donors were discarded, despite the fact that they were often well-functioning and capable of saving lives. Across the nation, more than 200 HIV-positive recipients are now enrolled in the HOPE Act trial to potentially receive HIV-positive donor organs, and we expect this number to continue to grow.”

Stable HIV-infected adults with kidney or liver disease who meet study-specific HIV criteria for organ transplantation will be offered enrollment in the clinical study at Emory. Participants will be followed and evaluated for four years after their transplant.

“Because of improved anti-retroviral regimens and other advances in their care, patients with HIV are living much longer and are known to have excellent outcomes after organ transplantation,” says Kitchens. “By utilizing organs from HIV-positive donors that were previously discarded, the HOPE Act significantly shortens the wait time for HIV-positive patients in need of an organ transplant.”

Kitchens continues to say, “We commend the bravery of our recipient who participated in this trial and also extend our deepest gratitude to the donor and the donor’s family for providing this gift of life. We also thank LifeLink of Georgia for their help in making this transplant a reality. Every day we encounter patients in desperate need of life-saving organ transplants, and we encourage everyone — both those living with HIV and those who are not — to register as an organ donor, as a critical need remains.”

About Emory Transplant Center

As one of the top 15 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 the Emory Transplant Center, visit emoryhealthcare.org/transplant.

A Special Valentine’s Day Gift: Wife Donates Kidney to Husband

In life, some things just fall into place. Seven years ago, Kerrie Poirot gave her husband Michael her heart. Now for this Valentine’s Day, she gave him the ultimate gift of love – donating her kidney and giving him the gift of life. Watch the story unfold from Fox 5 News.

Kerrie’s surgeon, Dr. Nicole Turgeon, Director of Emory’s Living Donor Kidney Transplant Program, says she’s most humbled by living donors.

“They’re selfless,” Dr. Turgeon says. “They give an organ. They undergo surgery that they wouldn’t otherwise have to have.” Emory Transplant Center has a well-established program, performing more than 1,300 living donor transplants to date.

Emory Transplant Center

To learn more about kidney transplant and Emory Transplant Center’s Living Donor Program, visit emoryhealthcare.org/kidneytransplant.

Kidney Donor: Joe Johnson’s Miracle Gift to a Stranger

In life, some things just fall into place. In 2015, Joe Johnson was a 58-year-old retiree, enjoying an easy life of golfing, fishing and aviation (he’s a private pilot). One day, a random online article changed the direction of his life – an article about kidney disease.

Joe knew nothing about kidney disease. He’d never heard a word about it. Curiously, on that particular day, it grabbed his attention right away.

The article described the plight of people on transplant waiting lists, especially kidney transplant waiting lists. “It was disheartening for me to see that there were over 100,000 people waiting on a kidney transplant and that between 4,000 – 5,000 of those will die while waiting.” Joe kept reading – and learned more about living donations.

In that moment, Joe began his journey into kidney donation. “God began to place in me a heartfelt compassion for those on the kidney waiting list,” he says.

Wheels in Motion

A few months later, he learned that a friend at church was scheduled to receive a kidney at Emory — yet another interesting twist to this story. They sat down and talked about the potential transplant – and about kidney disease, dialysis and transplantation in general.

Joe jumped at the chance. He wanted to donate his kidney to this friend – but another donor was already in the wings. But Joe was not deterred. He wanted to help a stranger by donating a kidney. “I felt that God was taking me out of my comfort zone,” he says.

He took the first steps toward becoming a kidney donor at Emory Transplant Center. After the interview process, he moved on to initial blood and urine testing. “As I passed each step, my faith continued to build,” says Joe. Another day of interviews and testing was the last step before making the final decision about becoming a donor. Joe prayed a lot.

“Then, I got the call from my coordinator, Ariana Bell, that I had been approved to donate. I felt like I had won the lottery, I was so happy. I was able to schedule the procedure for 7/29/16,” he says.

A Surprise to Everyone

Up to that point, Joe had kept everything under wraps and only his wife Shannon (“the love of my life”) and a few close friends knew that he wanted to donate.  “I decided to continue to keep things under wraps until a week before the surgery when I shared the news with my church congregation, family and my Facebook friends.”  His three children were at the top of the list — Curtis, age 20; Danielle, age 16; and youngest Zachary, age 12.

Joe’s sudden interest in kidney disease was surprising to everyone, including Joe. He was born in Japan on the island of Okinawa, and is part Japanese and Caucasian. Adopted when just a few months old, Joe never knew his parents’ medical history. Except for his friend at church, he didn’t know anyone who was on dialysis or a transplant waiting list.

And yet, he felt a strong need to donate a kidney.

“My experience at Emory was fantastic”

Joe steadfastly followed through on his commitment. He met plenty of people at the Emory Transplant Center.

“From my initial interview with Dr. Nicole Turgeon and through the entire transplant process, she was amazing,” says Joe. “She was kind, compassionate and was the consummate professional. She answered all my questions and I felt completely at peace with my decision to donate. I am so thankful that she was my surgeon for this procedure.”

While in the midst of testing and preparing to donate, Joe says he “never felt pressure to donate. “In fact, I was told that I could pull out at any time before surgery, but I never doubted my decision to donate.”

The kindness and professionalism of Dr. Turgeon and the rest of the Emory Transplant Center staff made his decision to go forward, very easy, he says. “Now I understand why Emory rates so high as a transplant center.”

“My recovery was very quick”

Joe went into his donation surgery feeling great. “Emory does a good job to make sure donors are in good health before donating. This insures the recipient is receiving the best kidney possible and that the donor recovers quickly, with minimal complications post-surgery.

Dr. Idelberto Raul Badell, who transplanted his kidney into the recipient, paid him a personal visit in the hospital and was “super friendly and encouraging,” says Joe.  “I don’t have enough superlatives to describe the care I received from everyone. I always felt I was in good hands.”

Within 24 hours after surgery, Joe was on minimal pain medication, unhooked from IV’s and walking the transplant floor. A day later, he was out of the hospital and on the road to recovery. Dr. Turgeon had told him to expect about 6 weeks to recover and resume normal activities. “For me, that was about right,” he says. “I am amazed at the human body’s ability to recover so quickly.”

The “Donate Life” flag

Joe didn’t know it – but the day of his surgery, Emory flew the “Donate Life” flag outside the hospital. He was given a replica of that flag. “I felt very humbled to have been honored in such a way. Also, I know that one day my name will appear on the wall honoring donors in the Emory Transplant Center.”

Since then, Emory has nominated Joe for the National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence. “It’s all very humbling,” he says.

Getting Back to Normal

Joe was in good health before his kidney donation – and thinks he might be in even better health today due to healthier eating and drinking lots of water. “I want to keep my remaining kidney as healthy as possible,” he says.

How is his kidney recipient faring? In the hospital, Joe wondered which patient in the nearby rooms had received his kidney. A few months after the surgery, he was invited to meet his recipient.  “It was an exciting day. I was very happy and a little nervous, but thankful my recipient agreed to meet me.”

When Joe’s recipient walked into the room, he had a tremendous feeling of joy. “When he saw me, his smile lit up the room. We shook hands and hugged. He was so thankful and there were tears shed. It was a beautiful and emotional experience.”

They got the recipient’s sister on the phone so she could be part of the meeting. “She was excited, thankful and a strong Christian woman who spoke about praying and God choosing the right person to donate to her brother,” says Joe. “Seeing my recipient’s smile and hearing the thanks coming from his sister made everything I had gone through, worth it.”

They still stay in touch and are planning to meet again in the near future.

A New Path Advocating for Donation

“Donating my kidney has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” says Joe. “I don’t feel it was by chance that I came across the article about kidney disease.”

He adds: “If someone had told me 2 years ago I would be donating a kidney to a complete stranger at age 59, I would have told them they were crazy. I feel God has set me on a new path to be an advocate for donation. I told Dr. Turgeon, that if I had an extra kidney to give today, I would not hesitate to do so.”

Joe is now exploring the option of donating bone marrow or stem cells. “We all have the opportunity to save a life or give someone quality of life once again through donation,” he says. “A living donation might not be an option for everyone, but anyone can make a difference by registering to be an organ donor through Donate Life. You never know, it could be the most rewarding experience of your life.”

Emory Transplant Center

To learn more about kidney transplant and Emory Transplant Center’s Living Donor Program, visit emoryhealthcare.org/kidneytransplant.


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.