Posts Tagged ‘National Kidney Foundation’

Catching Up with Kidney Transplant Recipient Ken Sutha

Sutha1As we continue to celebrate National Donate Life Month, we love to get and give updates on some of our patients. When we last told you about kidney transplant recipient Ken Sutha, he had just won three medals – two gold and one silver – at the 2010 National Kidney Foundation (NKF) U.S. Transplant Games. Sutha, who received a donor kidney from his father, competed in the 100-yard medley, 50-yard butterfly, 100-yard backstroke, and 500-yard freestyle events. Ken also has completed in triathlons.

Ken’s success goes well beyond athletics, though. After his transplant, Ken received a four-year academic scholarship from the Georgia Transplant Foundation, which helped support his education through graduate and medical school. After graduating from Emory University School of Medicine last summer, he moved to Seattle where he has been in training as a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington. While enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest, he’s been caring for many different kinds of kids, including some who are awaiting transplants or who already have had transplant.

“I’ve been getting involved in transplant and donation awareness organizations out here, but I do miss everyone back at the Georgia Transplant Foundation and the Emory Transplant Center,” says Sutha. “Before my transplant, I would have never imagined the direction my life could take. I am so grateful to the transplant community for giving me the opportunity to succeed in many different aspects of my life!

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From Kidney Transplant to Gold Medal

Emory Transplant Center Supports the National Kidney Foundation

The Emory Transplant Center helped support the annual National Kidney Foundation Atlanta Walk, a fundraiser that benefits many of our patients in a multitude of ways. This year’s Team Emory, which walked in memory of the late Meg Jeffrey for the third year in a row, raised more than $6,000 for the NKF Atlanta Walk 2013, which was held on June 8. The team contributed the third largest amount out of 163 Atlanta teams participating in the event — quite an accomplishment.

“Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible with a donation of money or time,” says Team Emory’s coordinator, Jennifer Everett-Kitchens, physician assistant in the abdominal transplant programs. “My family and I are so proud to have helped organize this year’s NKF walk.”

Emory Transplant Center Team

Emory Transplant Center Team 2013
(Not shown are Satrina Hill, RN, manager of the Outpatient Transplant Clinic, and Nicole Turgeon, MD, who arrived a little late. She had just finished performing a transplant that morning!)

One of the walk’s most ardent supporters was John Fox, Emory Healthcare president and CEO, who supported Team Emory at the Silver level sponsorship. Chick-fil-A provided breakfast for walkers again this year. Dawn Fletcher, senior manager for clinical services and operations for the kidney program, and her daughter Lexi raised $300 during a bake sale.

“The Atlanta Walk has been an uplifting, team-building experience for the past three years,” Everett-Kitchens says. “The walk is an important ETC tradition that my family and I intend to continue to participate in, and we hope more of you will be able to join us next year.”

“We had several patients join us for the walk this year, which was really fantastic,” wrote ETC executive director Dr. Thomas Pearson in an email thanking walkers. He and Dr. Stephen Pastan, medical director of the kidney transplant program, were co-chairs of the walk again this year. “I hope that those of you that weren’t able to join us this year will be able to come next year. The walk has been a great opportunity to gather outside of work, and enjoy each other.”

“For those of us who knew Meg, worked with Meg, or were touched by her in any positive way, we can be certain that countless people across the state of Georgia are alive and healthier today in part because of her efforts and caring spirit,” Dr. Pearson continued.

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From Kidney Transplant to Gold Medals

Ken Sutha National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant GamesBack in 2006, at the age of 24, Ken Sutha received his living donor kidney transplant at Emory. His donor was none other than his own father. Four years later, not only has Ken made remarkable strides in his overall health, but even more amazing, he has gone from a non-athlete to a world class swimmer.

Ken practices each day after class at Georgia Tech, where he’s a student in the Emory and Georgia Tech MD/PhD program. Recently, his practice paid off in a big way. Back in August, Ken returned home from Madison, Wisconsin where he was a participant in the 2010 National Kidney Foundation (NKF) U.S. Transplant Games.

Representing Team Georgia, Ken competed in the 100-yard medley, 50-yard butterly, 100-yard backstroke, and 500-yard freestyle events. A tremendous feat for someone who underwent a life changing transplant. What’s even more impressive? Ken left the NKF U.S. Transplant Games with two gold medals and one silver medal. However, it was not the medals, but the experience, that left a lasting impression on Ken.

“My favorite part of the Games was meeting other recipients, living donors, and donor families,” Ken notes. “One of our Emory recipients, Sherrell Gay, celebrated her eighth anniversary of her heart transplant at the closing ceremony on Tues., Aug. 3,” he continues. “She competed in table tennis this year.”

Ken is a shining example that those who undergo solid organ transplants are able to return to a normal high-quality life, and often, can achieve a level of health they never reached prior to transplant. In addition to swimming, Ken competes in sprint triathlons to stay in shape. His last sprint was at the Rock ‘N Rollman Triathlon in June in Macon, GA. We will continue to keep you posted on Ken’s remarkable achievements.

Or, if you’re interested in learning more about the games or kidney transplant from Ken, please leave your questions in the comments below. Ken will be responding to any questions you have for him!