Posts Tagged ‘transplant nurse’

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 http://www.amazingnurses.com. 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.

Related Resources:

“My Offer Stands.” – Emory Transplant Nurse Donates Kidney to Patient

Clay Taber, Transplant Patient with Nurse Allison BatsonEmory University Hospital transplant nurse Allison Batson has spent many years caring for patients in need of a life-saving organ transplant. She has seen many patients’ lives saved because of the gift of organ donation … and many others lost because a matching organ simply could not be located in time.

Recently though, Allison was not only in the position to provide care and comfort at the bedside of a transplant patient in desperate need of a kidney transplant, she selflessly gave of herself – literally- by becoming an organ donor to 23 year-old Clay Taber of Columbus, Georgia.

Clay graduated from Auburn University in August and is soon to marry his college sweetheart in a few months. While he has been eagerly looking toward his future, over the last few months, he’s also been battling the fight of his life.

After his graduation, Clay’s family took a celebratory beach vacation at the Gulf of Mexico – not long after the unprecedented oil spill that occurred there. A few weeks later, Clay was not feeling well.

A doctor’s visit and standard blood tests uncovered Clay had Goodpasture’s Syndrome, a rare (approximately 1-in 1 million), life-threatening autoimmune disorder related to antibody formation in the body. Goodpasture’s syndrome is characterized by renal (kidney) disease and lung hemorrhage.

There is no exact cause known for Goodpasture’s disease, a disease in which the immune system fights the body’s own normal tissues through creating antibodies that attack the lungs and kidneys. Sometimes the disorder is triggered by a viral infection, or by the inhalation of gasoline or other hydrocarbon solvents – such as those found in crude oil.

Nurse Allison Batson, Patient Clay Taber

Nurse Allison Batson with Clay Taber

While Clay was lucky that the disorder was discovered before his lungs were affected, he was now suffering from complete kidney failure. He was transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where he would spend numerous weeks on the 7th floor – the transplant unit, where he would undergo weeks of dialysis and plasmapheresis (blood purification procedure used to treat several autoimmune diseases.)

And that’s where the bond began.

“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.

“I learned more about Clay, his family, his life, what he saw for his future. He wanted to get married to his sweetheart. He 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.”

Soon Clay was strong enough to return home, where he would continue to receive dialysis treatment for a few months while waiting for a donor organ. Because Clay’s blood type is O-negative, finding a matching donor would prove to be challenging.

Clay’s mother, Sandra, would be tested as a possible match. She, however, would not qualify to be Clay’s organ donor. Then in late October, during a visit to Emory and the transplant unit where he regularly visited with friends and well-wishers, Clay, of course, also met with Allison.

“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.”

Soon after, Allison would undergo the donor testing process that would eventually confirm her as a perfect match for Clay.

“People have asked me why I would do this for a stranger, or what if I had a family member in need one day, or why would I risk my own life or health for someone I barely know. My answer is because I can. Sure, I have children who might possibly be in need one day, but here was this young man right in front of me who needs help – today, and I am in a position to help him – today. If what I do for Clay causes more awareness among others that live organ donation is a possibility, then I can only hope that other lives will be saved because of my actions.”

On Tuesday, January 10th, the families of both Allison and Clay gathered in the early morning hours at Emory University Hospital. Smiles, tears and hugs were abundant between people who had formed an unbreakable bond over the course of the last few months, and had, in effect become extended family to one another.

In Operating Room #9, Allison underwent surgery to remove her kidney, while Clay was prepped for surgery just 30-feet away in Operating Room #8. Hours later, both patients were resting comfortably on the 7th floor of Emory University Hospital, where they had met by chance just months before. Both ready to start the new year in incredible fashion – with a new lease on life for Clay, and as a hero for Allison.

Related Resources:

 

Transplant Nursing Pioneer Revisits Emory Transplant Center 45 Years Later

Millie Elliott, RN, MNNearly 45 years after she cared for Georgia’s first organ transplant recipient, Millie Elliott, 84, stepped through the doors of the Emory Transplant Center outpatient transplant clinic (OTC) for the first time to see how things have changed since her time at Emory. Elliott, who was Millie Burns at the time, worked at Emory University Hospital first as an obstetrics nurse, and then as head nurse of an NIH-sponsored clinical research unit at Emory from 1961 to 1967. She served as a dialysis nurse on this unit and may have been the Southeast’s first renal transplant coordinator.

During her recent visit to the transplant center, this former Cadet Nurse Corps nurse and World War II veteran regaled the transplant center staff and kidney transplant program director Dr. Thomas Pearson with her stories about the first transplant at Emory. Elliott recalled spending a lot of time researching medical sources to prepare herself and her nurses for that remarkable day, from learning about the best dialysis and sterilization practices to caring for patients in the OR and at the bedside. The first transplant patient was a 16-year-old boy with renal failure who received a donor kidney from his father.

Things were quite different in the world of kidney transplant back then. “We didn’t have outpatient dialysis centers in those days,” Elliott recalls. “Patients could only have dialysis in research centers, and we had to follow strict protocols. We had to notate each medication and chemically catalogue everything the patient ate and excreted. Not a drop of urine was lost in analysis.”

Dialysis patients would come to Emory regularly at 10-day intervals. An actual washing machine without the wringer and agitator served as the dialysis machine, and the hospital’s pharmacists prepared a special mix of chemicals to cleanse the blood. “We stirred the dry chemicals with our hands and mixed it with water,” she says. “The patient’s blood moved through an IV tube—the tube acted as a filter—into this chemical ‘bath’ and then into the machine. The process was very sterile.”

The first transplant patient stayed in an isolation room. “I suggested —and Dr. Garland Herndon [the research center's director] agreed— that we put a mat soaked with formaldehyde on the floor at the patient’s door, so that we didn’t track germs into his room on our shoes.”

After her time at the Emory Transplant Center, Elliott worked with Joy Bradley, a fellow Emory master’s program alumna, to apply for a grant to establish the largest associate’s degree nursing program in the U.S. at DeKalb College (now Perimeter College), and she later became its director. She also served as a federal government quality assurance nurse who helped develop regulations that established dialysis centers across the country. In addition, she created national nursing seminars and an educational film for physicians and nurses on maintaining infection control in dialysis centers.

Millie Elliott is a true example of the impact one person can have on medical innovation. Not only has she passed on this incredible nursing legacy to future generations—her daughter is a family nurse practitioner and her granddaughter is a pediatric ICU nurse—she also has helped pave the way for the nearly 3,500 kidney transplants the ETC has performed since the first one in 1966. We’re very proud of Millie Elliott’s efforts and the efforts of the Emory Transplant Center, a leading organ transplant program in the U.S.