Posts Tagged ‘kidney transplantation’

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

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

Kidney Transplant Coordinator, Juanita Conner

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

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

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

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

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

From a Life of Giving to Giving the Gift of Life

Michael (Mike) Beller wanted to make a real difference in the lives of others. He didn’t want to help just one person, he wanted to help as many people as he could. So Mike decided to altruistically donate one of his kidneys, which was the kickoff to a kidney transplant chain that has effected people in Atlanta to Wisconsin and beyond.

As the son of missionaries in Mexico, Mike grew up believing he had the responsibility to give back. He currently serves as Chief of Investigations for the Chamblee Police Department, and formerly served as an Army ranger. He is also the father of 5 children.

“It’s amazing,” says transplant surgeon Dr. Nicole Turgeon, “he’s lived a life where he has been giving, to his family, to his job and to his country.”

Last winter Mike started thinking abut donating a kidney. He found an article on the internet about the National Kidney Registry.

“There are 90,000 people in this country that need a kidney and there’s 1000s of them every year that die without one”, says Mike.

The National Kidney Registry matches people who need a kidney and have a willing donor who is not a match for them, with someone who is a match; therefore, connecting together a chain of transplants with p aired donors across the country.

In paired donation, an incompatible donor and recipient pair is matched with another incompatible donor and recipient pair, and the kidneys are exchanged between the pairs. By giving their kidneys to unknown, but compatible, individuals, the donors can provide two or more patients with healthy kidneys where previously no transplant would have been possible.

Mike decided he wanted to be the person to start one these chains.

“If he gave to one person, that would be great but this would allow him the possibility to maybe help two, three, five, six, and in some chains we see even up to 50 or 60 people involved,” says Dr. Turgeon.

On August 1st, Mike donated his healthy kidney that was immediately flown by passenger jet to Madison, Wisconsin to save the life of a recipient. Mike’s gift would then trigger another transplant in Pennsylvania, and then another in South Carolina and so the chain goes on.

Two and a half weeks later Mike returned to work and is doing well.

Says Mike, “I can’t think of anything else you could do that could help another human being this effectively.

Mike’s story was recently featured on Fox 5 News. You can learn more about this tremendous gift by watching the video below:

Related Resources:

Six Lives Connected through Paired Donor Kidney Exchange

Living Organ DonationThe Emory Transplant Center played a role in a 6-chain kidney swap that will forever bind 6 individuals.  Maya Cosola wanted to donate a kidney to her aunt but was not a compatible match.  So she agreed to be a part of paired donor kidney exchange program that allows incompatible donor and recipient pairs to be matched with other incompatible donor and recipient pairs, allowing kidneys to be exchanged between these pairs. A match between pairs was arranged, and Maya’s kidney was flown to someone in North Carolina, and thus began the 6-chain exchange across 4 states.

Share their touching story in this video from Fox 5 below:

Visit the Emory Kidney Transplant Program website for more information on the Emory Paired Donor Exchange program.

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For Ed Mann & Felicia Henderson, It’s a Small World After All

Ed Mann Felicia Henderson Living Donor Kidney Transplant

Ed Mann and Felicia Henderson on a recent visit to the Emory Transplant Center.

As a physical education teacher, every day Ed Mann helps keep the children of Mount Zion Elementary School in Carrollton, GA in tip-top-physical condition, but ironically, his own health has been suffering for the past three years. In 2009, Ed was diagnosed with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that resulted in a decline in his heart and pulmonary health initially, but then, took a toll on his kidneys. As a result, six hours of every one of Ed’s days was spent undergoing dialysis treatments. And despite his declining health and ongoing medical needs, he still didn’t missed a single day of work.

After seeking a kidney donor via traditional methods to no avail, one day a few months ago, Ed had an idea that he called “a shot in the dark,” but it was a decision that proved to be much more than that. Ed posted a message on Facebook, “Just a little advertising. Still need a kidney. 404-712-4450.”, which is the phone number of the Emory Kidney Transplant Program. A shot in the dark turned into an even more unlikely set of circumstances when the person who answered Ed’s call for help was not only a fellow employee at Mount Zion Elementary, but also Ed’s longtime friend of 16 years, Felicia Henderson.

Not knowing whether she would be a match for Ed, “I just called the number,” recalls Felicia. And after undergoing the necessary testing, the team at the Emory Transplant Center confirmed that Felicia was indeed a match to be Ed’s kidney donor. Upon receiving the news, Felicia immediately committed to being Ed’s donor, “People that are able to give a kidney live longer than the average person, not because they have given a kidney, but because they were healthy enough in the first place to be able to do it.”

Because of Felicia’s gift of life, Ed will continue to coach and teach the children of Mount Zion Elementary how to stay physically fit. “The gift of life. I know I’ve got so many good friends. Very thoughtful, very kind.”, he says.

Felicia and Ed’s transplant operation took place exactly two months ago today, on November 16, 2012. Since the surgery, both Ed and Felicia are doing well. They spent time with their families over the holidays celebrating renewed health and the gift of life, and have both returned to work at Mount Zion Elementary.

When we asked Ed if there is anything he would like to say to Felicia, he told us, “Yes. I would like to tell her thank you for saving my life. You are the most thoughtful and kind person I know, and I appreciate what you did for me.”

Related Resources:

Kidney Patients Can Now Receive Pre- and Post-Transplant Care Closer to Home

Emory Transplant CenterBeginning in May 2012, the Emory Transplant Center will provide pre- and post-transplant services for renal patients in northwest Georgia at our new location in Cartersville. Along with our two existing satellite offices in Savannah and Dublin, the new office in Cartersville means that more Georgians can receive kidney transplant evaluations and follow-up care from Emory professionals without making a trip to Atlanta.

Emory’s Kidney Transplant Program:

  • Provides comprehensive evaluations for kidney and pancreas transplantation, as well as state-of-the-art transplant follow-up care
  • Offers a highly skilled team of specialists in the care of kidney transplant patients and living donors
  • Ranks as one of the top programs of its kind in the country, with success rates higher than expected for both patient and graft survival*
  • Performed 215 kidney transplant procedures in 2011 – the largest number of transplants in a single year in the history of the program

Emory Kidney Transplant Program Satellite Locations:

Emory Transplant Center –  Cartersville
(located in the Emory Heart & Vascular Center office)
970 Joe Frank Harris Parkway, Suite 280
Cartersville, Georgia 30120

Emory Transplant Center –  Dublin
(located in the Emory Heart & Vascular Center office)
2301 Bellevue Road, Suite 1000
Dublin, Georgia 31021

Emory Transplant Center –  Savannah
(located in the St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital)
5534 Reynolds Street, Suite 212
Savannah, GA   31405

For more information about our locations and scheduling an appointment, visit our Kidney Transplant Program website.

 

*Source: Transplant by volume, Scientific Registry of Transplants Recipients (SRTR) national database

 

A Mother-Daughter Transplant Story – Angie Dudley, Bakerella

There are many things a mother can pass along to her daughter, but it takes a unique generosity—not genes—for a mother to give her daughter a kidney. In June, Angie Dudley, owner of the blog, Bakerella, and creator of cake pops, received her second kidney transplant from none other than her own mother, Sandy Cunningham. Although this is not Angie’s first transplant experience, she says her mother has, from day one, offered to be her organ donor.

Transplant Patient Angie Dudley & Mother, Sandra Cunningham

Transplant patient, Angie Dudley, with her mother, Sandy Cunningham.

Angie was diagnosed with Focal Sclerosing Glomerulonephritis (FSGS) in April of 1991 after a routine doctor visit led to kidney biopsy. It was found to be heavily scarred, and by October, Angie was undergoing dialysis and on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

“My mom was very proactive in trying to get on the [donor] list,” Angie said, but doctors suggested they wait for a kidney from a cadaver. “I didn’t want to make my mom go through that because they told me in half the cases of my disease, it reoccurs.”

After 10 months of continuing peritoneal dialysis—all while attending college and working part-time— Angie received her first kidney transplant at just 20 years old.

Dr. Christian Larsen, MD, PhD, performed both of Angie’s transplants. “I was so happy with what [Dr. Larsen] did,” Angie said. She was glad to see that the incisions from her first surgery healed with minimal scarring, which she attributed to Larsen’s thoughtfulness. But she didn’t expect that after nearly 19 years of health, Larsen would have to operate on her again.

Near the end of 2010, things took a turn when Angie’s symptoms resurfaced. Doctors determined she would likely need a second kidney transplant.

“I guess I really thought my kidney would last as long as I would,” Dudley said. “It was kind of overwhelming emotionally to think about losing it because it had been with me for so long. I didn’t want it to go bad not because I wouldn’t be willing to have another kidney, but there was a life sacrificed for that.”

Her mother had already begun emailing doctors again, seeking approval to be Angie’s organ donor. “This time [my mom] was adamant about being the donor,” Angie said. “I don’t think I could’ve stopped her if I wanted to.”

After taking various tests and retests, Sandy Cunningham finally received the news she’d been waiting for: She was approved be her daughter’s kidney donor. “That was just the most awesome day of my life,” Sandy said. “It still is.”

On June 14, both mother and daughter underwent surgery for the transplant. “I was most worried about my mom being the donor,” Angie said. “I didn’t want anything to happen to her.”

Angie’s mom, on the other hand, was confident. “While I might’ve been nervous, I pushed it all aside because that was the very best resource that we had,” she said. “We were doing the best thing we could do. Had I died doing that, it would have been fine. I truly feel that way, and I would do it again.” But her daughter objects, “I would go on dialysis again if there was any risk of that,” she insisted.

Knowing she wouldn’t be able to walk for a few days, Angie insisted on seeing her mother right after the surgery. “[The staff] wanted to take me to my room, and I said, ‘No, wheel my bed into her room so I can see her.’”

Dr. Nicole Turgeon, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the Emory Clinic, operated on Angie’s mother and said Sandy couldn’t have had a better donor. “The bond that these two share was very striking,” she noted. “The love they have for each other is remarkable.”

Dr. Turgeon also commended Angie for her accomplishments as a baker. “[She] does some really neat things with Bakerella,” Turgeon said. “The fact that she can have kidney disease and still be so creative and contribute to society in such a way that you would never know she even had kidney disease is what was most striking to me.” Dudley began blogging in 2007, but her Bakerella site went viral after she posted pictures of her cake pops, an adorably enticing treat she concocted herself. Since then, her aptitude for creative baking has landed her on the Martha Stewart Show, as a judge in various baking competitions, and even on the red carpet at the Emmys, thanks to Duncan Hines.

Angie’s website, www.bakerella.com, receives almost three million page-views each month, and she also published a a New York Times best-selling book, appropriately titled Cake Pops, which will soon be available in four different languages.

Not surprisingly, her mother’s generous nature reflects in Angie’s work. “What turned into something for me has turned into something to give other people,” she stated.

“How much her mom was willing to promote and care for her…was probably a big part of why she was successful and had the ability to live a normal life despite having kidney disease,” Turgeon said of Angie. “I think that’s a tribute to her mom.”

And no matter how succsesful she becomes, Angie agrees that she will, first and foremost, always be her mother’s beloved daughter.