Posts Tagged ‘living donor transplant’

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

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!

Emory Transplant Center Receives Grant to Help Increase Access to Living Donor Kidney Transplants

Living Kidney Donor Transp;lantThe Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust has awarded the Emory Transplant Center a $500,000 grant over two years that will go a long way toward saving lives and increasing access to the benefits of living donor kidney transplants among Georgians. The grant will help Emory Transplant Center researchers design, implement and evaluate new recruitment and retention tools in partnership with Tonic Health, a leading medical data collection system. The initiative’s goals are to help living donor candidates navigate the donation process and to be able to easily track them through the entire transplant process.

“Due to enhanced awareness in the community, an increase in accessibility and various educational initiatives there are more end-stage renal disease [ESRD] patients in Georgia coming forward as potential candidates for transplantation,” says Dr. Thomas Pearson, executive director of the ETC. “Both the number of available deceased donor organs and living donor kidneys for ESRD patients have plateaued in the last three or four years, making the need to explore new techniques to increase the donor pool more urgent than ever.”

Because of this, the Emory Transplant Center has started a pilot project to capture patient questionnaires and intake notes electronically to help speed the evaluation process. The new system will flag patients who could be appropriate candidates for kidney donation based on criteria developed by our researchers and will help reduce the time nurse coordinators need to review records. It will be much more patient friendly and efficient than current phone call screening processes. The new technology will be one of the most innovative electronic screening systems for facilitating living donor kidney transplantation available anywhere in the country.

With the help of the Mason Trust grant, the Emory Transplant Center hopes to increase the number of kidney transplant evaluations by at least 30%, and decrease the time from referral to donation by 20%.

According to Dr. Pearson, “We are truly grateful for the dedication of the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust to help ESRD patients and their families learn about the benefits of transplantation, assist them in the transplant process, help them find living donor matches, and enable our faculty and staff to monitor their progress.”

100,000 People are Waiting for a Kidney. Learn More About Emory’s Paired Donor Exchange Program

Paired Donor Exchange ProgramDid you know that there are nearly 100,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list? With the average wait time for a kidney now at four years, patients are often eager to seek other options to waiting on a deceased donor kidney so that they can get back to living a healthy life. Fortunately, with today’s medical advances, a living or a deceased person can donate a kidney.

The Emory Transplant Center launched its Kidney Paired Donor Exchange Program in 2010 and has been participating in the National Kidney Registry since 2012. Join Nicole Turgeon, MD, associate professor of surgery, Emory University School of Medicine and surgical director of the Paired Donor Exchange Program on April 8 for an online live chat to learn how paired donor exchange works, what it takes to become a donor and how paired donor exchange is helping patients dramatically improve their quality of life.

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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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When Living Organ Donation Means Living On Through Others

Living Organ Donation Donate Life MonthIn recognition of Donate Life month, the Emory Transplant Center was honored to have a very special speaker share an extraordinary story – one that touches the very heart of what it means to give the gift of life even in times of heartbreak.

Scott Haggard shared with Emory physicians and staff the story of his sister, Terri Haggard Wade – a loving 48 year old wife, mother, sister and daughter – who spent her professional career as a nurse.  And as part of the medical profession, Terri knew the importance of organ donation.  As a matter of fact, when her son was learning to drive, Terri said that before he could drive on his own, he would need to register to become an organ donor.

It was March of 2009 when Terri was rear ended in an automobile accident.  She began to experience headaches, and when they continued after a few weeks, Terri decided to go to an urgent care center to be evaluated. The urgent care center sent her to a nearby hospital to have a CT scan of her head.  And that was when they discovered Terri had a brain tumor.

On April 15, 2009, Terri had surgery to remove her tumor.  The surgery was more complicated than anticipated, and Terri did not wake up immediately after the surgery.  After ten days, Terri still had not awakened and her intracranial pressure spiked to very high levels, causing brain death.

At this time, Terri’s medical team approached her family asking them to make a very difficult decision.  They had to decide whether or not to allow Terri’s organs to be donated – they knew she wasn’t really with them anymore.

“We were never going to have Terri,” said Scott, “but to have her be able to help others, even in death, meant everything to us”.

To honor Terri’s wishes, her organs were donated, saving lives as she had done so many times before as a neonatal intensive care nurse at Egleston.  Terri was very loved among many – over 700 people were present at her funeral.

Although Scott knows that the individuals who received his sister’s organ are grateful for their gift of life, he says “It also means a lot to us, the donor family, to know that Terri is able to live through others”.

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Help Us Honor Nurse Allison Batson and Her Gift of Life – Vote Today!

Nurse Allison Batson, Patient Clay Taber

Nurse Allison Batson with Clay Taber

Every once in awhile, you meet someone so special that they become part of you forever. For 23-year-old Emory kidney transplant patient Clay Taber, that person is Allison Batson – literally.

A few months ago, we told you the story of a transplant nurse at Emory University Hospital, Allison, and her selfless donation of one of her kidneys to Taber last January, a gift that likely saved him months on dialysis — if not his life. Allison and Clay met when he was an inpatient at Emory University Hospital fighting a rare disease called Goodpasture’s Syndrome, a life-threatening autoimmune disorder characterized by kidney disease and lung hemorrhage. Allison saw more than a patient in Clay.  She saw her own children, all close to Clay’s age.

“I learned more about Clay, his family, his life, what he saw for his future,” Allison recalls. “He wanted to get married to his sweetheart. He’d just graduated from college. The whole world was his, with the exception of this incredibly rare illness that hit him out of the blue. I have children his age, and I felt the same kind of pain his mother was feeling. Something inside me said I needed to do more.”

Though Clay’s blood type is rare, Allison was tested to be a donor and proved to be a match. On Tuesday, January 10th, Allison’s kidney was removed and transplanted into Clay’s body. Nearly half a year later, Clay has recovered well, even finding a weekend in June to marry his college love.

Though Allison has never asked for special treatment or even a hint of recognition, her colleagues recently submitted her profile to Johnson  & Johnson’s Amazing Nurses Contest. She was selected as one of 10 finalists. Voting is now up to the public. If Allison wins, she’ll receive a trip for two to Los Angeles to attend the 2012 CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute live broadcast show, courtesy of CNN.  Though a trip to sunny LA is quite a prize, Allison has a bigger gift in mind.

“I am once again humbled by this nomination and very excited to be recognized,” says Allison. “But more than that, my hopes for this contest are that it will spread the word about the Living Donor program.  There are more than 90,000 Americans on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. That’s 90,000 too many. Relatives, loved ones, friends and even strangers can give this lifesaving gift.”

To vote for Allison, visit Voters can cast one vote per day until Sept. 28. The winner will be announced December 2 at the CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute live broadcast.

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Donate Life Month “Thank You” from Joe Persichetti

Joe Persichetti transplant patient
Dear Donor Family,

It has been eight years since my life saving heart transplant, and once again, I want to thank my donor and donor family for the gift of life.

I suffered my first of three heart attacks at age 40, and for eighteen years I struggled with heart disease. At age 58 my heart was failing and I was told that I would need a heart transplant to live. I was put on the on the transplant list and waited at home for four months. Waiting and not knowing if the call would come in time. At that point I did the only thing I knew how to do, pray.

When the call did come that there was a heart for me, all I could think about was that someone I never met was going to save my life.

I never imagined that I would enjoy this quality of life. I am using my new life to bring awareness to the importance of organ donation, and mentoring others who are waiting for a life saving transplant. I am determined to give back and celebrate life in honor of my donor.

My family and I are always thankful for each day we have together. I am playing golf and enjoying life to its fullest. I truly must say that my greatest joy is the time I spend with my seven grandchildren. As I hold them close to me I am grateful I have the chance to watch them grow. They are the joy of my life and I am truly blessed.

As always your family and my donor are in my heart and daily prayers forever.

There is no greater gift then the gift of life you shared with me.



Donate Life Month “Thank You” Message from Terri Lynne

Terri Lynne

My donor was an 11 year old girl from Arkansas; that is all I know of her but not a day has ever gone by that I haven’t thought of her. Words will never begin to explain enough what has been given to me.

I believe I was given more than just a liver; I have her legacy. Even if I don’t know her name, her existence and memory is alive in me. My liver isn’t just an organ to me; it is a part of her.”


You can share Terri’s story here.

If you haven’t signed up to become a donor yet and are needing more information, please visit Donate Life.

Celebrating the Gift of Life – Donate Life Month

Since 2003, April has served as National Donate Life Month and provided the health and transplant communities with an entire month of local, regional and national activities to help support and raise awareness around organ donation and celebrate those who have given the gift of life to others by donating. We’ve seen some amazing gifts of generosity here at Emory since National Donate Life Month last year, and in honor of the month, we’d like to celebrate those members of our community who have truly given of themselves in an effort to save the lives of others.

Pamela Emory Employee Living Donor

Pamela Lesane

We kicked off Donate Life Month last year with the help of Pamela Lesane, an Emory Healthcare employee and now patient, after making a very generous gift to her own sister. After beginning her career with Emory Healthcare in Guest Services, Pamela came into contact with a transplant coordinator who asked her if her sister, who had suffered from kidney disease all her life, had ever been evaluated for a transplant. She had not, so Pamela helped her push forward in getting evaluated and her sister was placed on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. It turned out Pamela would be a match for her sister’s transplant, and the rest is history. You can read more on Pamela’s story here.

Shortly after Pamela was able to help bring renewed life to her sister via organ donation, six lives at Emory were saved by as a result of a selfless donation from one man, Jon Pomenville, from Anderson, South Carolina. Imagine waking up one morning in good health and deciding out of the goodness of your heart to donate your kidney to someone you didn’t even know – anyone, anywhere. That’s exactly what Jon did and he wasn’t looking for credit. In fact he was completely comfortable with remaining anonymous throughout the process. But during a follow-up visit to Emory University Hospital, Jon met many of the individuals whose lives he helped change – right there in the transplant clinic waiting room. Jon and four of the other donors and recipients in what is referred to as a paired kidney transplant were coincidentally scheduled for follow-up appointments within a short period of time of one another. It was only a matter of minutes before the patients – recipients and donors – two father and son combinations and Jon, the man who would give to anyone – were hugging, shaking hands, and recounting their lives and experiences. As one person began recounting the experience, eyes and ears began to focus on the tale being told from across a crowded room. Share Jon’s story.

Lester Crowell

Lester Crowell

Many of our transplant community members are recipients of organ donations themselves and have opted to find ways to give back to others in need. Lester Crowell, is a fantastic example of an Emory Transplant patient who took giving back to a whole new level. Lester is a two-time recipient of a donated heart, and as a heart transplant patient, he shared the love in a major way by holding an event to help raise awareness and over $30,000 for the Georgia Transplant Foundation. Check out Lester’s story in this video and blog post.

Kevin Jordan Wake Forest Kidney Transplant at Emory

Coach Tom Walter & Kevin Jordan

We’ve seen family members give to family members, anonymous givers donate life to change the lives of others, and a transplant patient who gave back to the community, but one story, that of Kevin Jordan and Coach Tom Walter of Wake Forest University was an especially touching one for us here at Emory. In February of 2011, we shared Part I of their story. To bring you up to speed, Kevin was diagnosed with ANCA vasculitis, an autoimmune disorder that typically leads to almost immediate kidney failure. At the time, Kevin was an all-star baseball player being actively recruited by both Wake Forest University (WFU) and Auburn, but he was faced with an illness that could potentially change his future not only in baseball, but in life. Kevin opted to join the crew at Wake Forest, but as his condition worsened, it became clear to both Kevin and Coach Tom that something would need to be done. Kevin was in desperate need of a new kidney, and when neither his mother nor father met matching criteria to serve as a living donor, Coach Tom volunteered to be tested as a match. A match he was, and the story is pretty much a fairytale from there. Just months after joining the Wake Forest crew, Kevin and his coach would share a lifelong bond, making them family both on and off the field. In October of this year, just 7 months later, Kevin was able to return to practice at the sport he loves thanks to the generous gift of Coach Tom. Share their story here.

Clay Taber, Transplant Patient with Nurse Allison Batson

Clay Taber & Allison Batson

The giving back here at Emory continued when just a few months ago, our own transplant nurse, Allison Batson, gave of herself, literally, to 23-year-old patient, Clay Taber, who was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. “Immediately when Clay came onto our unit, he became a special patient that everyone just gravitated to,” said Allison Batson. “Here was this young man with everything in his life ahead of him, and he was fighting for his life. He quickly became friends of many of the staff, and really was just a tremendous inspiration to us all.” Allison continued to visit with Clay during his weeks at the hospital, and a deeper connection began to form than the typical nurse-patient bond. “She said ‘If you’ll let me do this, I want to donate my kidney to you,” Clay recalls. “Something at that point just hit me. There are so many people in need of an organ transplant and have been waiting like me – even longer than me in many cases. And here is Allison offering to do this amazing thing. When she said ‘If you’ll let me,’ there was just something in those words. I couldn’t say no.” Share Allison and Clay’s story here.

We are so grateful to the steps that have been taken by the Emory transplant community to celebrate and give the gift of life. Countless lives are changed at the Emory Transplant Center every year because of selfless gifts of those in our community. In honor of Donate Life Month, we will help to spotlight some of these very special stories in the weeks to come. If you have your own story to share, or just want to give thanks to those here who have given the gift of life, please use the comments section below.

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