Why seeing a therapist almost kept me from donating my kidney?

Mayra AlmendarezTransplant News

Written by Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger When I reached out to the Mayo Clinic in 2017 to see if I could be a living donor for a kidney patient I had read about in the newspaper, I had no idea if I would qualify.  First, of course, I didn’t know if I would be a blood and HLA tissue type match.  I also wondered if I was too old (I had just turned 60) or …

What if one of my children needs a kidney?

Mayra AlmendarezTransplant News

Written by Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger When I told people I was planning to donate a kidney to a woman I read about in the newspaper many asked “But what if one of your children (or your husband) needs a kidney someday?  You won’t be able to save their life.” The answer for me was easy.  I was already 61.  The odds that one of my two adult children or my husband, none of whom …

Legislative Efforts to Support Living Kidney Donors

Mayra AlmendarezTransplant News

Written by Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger  Donating a kidney can be expensive.  While the recipient’s insurance – whether through a private company or Medicare – fully covers the donor’s medical, surgical, and hospital expenses, it does not cover out-of-pocket costs. This means many who donate some distance from their home town are left to cover their own expenses for transportation, meals, and lodging. Insurance also fails to compensate donors for the time required for evaluation, …

Abundant: First-Person Stories about Living Organ Donation

Mayra AlmendarezTransplant News

Written by Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger Laurie Lee is an altruistic kidney donor and facilitator of the Kidney Champion Program at Northwestern Medicine, a program that teaches kidney patients strategies to help find a living donor.  She is also the host of Donor Diaries, a podcast about the beauty and messiness of living organ donation. For the past three years she has been working as a producer and content consultant on Abundant, a documentary featuring first-person stories from …

2023: A Year of Expansion & Prosperity

Mayra AlmendarezTransplant News

Written by Dr. Solaf Al Awadhi, Scientific Writer We can’t believe we have only been in Houston, Texas together for 2 years. This year has been a year of expansion of staff, partnerships, and national policy leadership for the Patient Engagement Research Lab.   This year Dr. Waterman welcomed seven wonderful new members to the lab, to expand her core amazing team of faculty, staff, and interns.  She acknowledges the team by saying, ‘You are a critical …

Five Year Transplant Anniversary

Mayra AlmendarezTransplant News

By Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger  Early last month, I sat on a sunny patio at one of my favorite restaurants in Kansas City enjoying brunch with two of my favorite people – Deb Porter Gill and her boyfriend George, who was in town from Florida visiting family. No one watching us – talking animatedly about friends, family, politics, religion, movies, books, vacations – would have guessed at the permanent bond we share. Almost exactly five …

Beyond direct donation: what if your friends and family don’t match?

Mayra AlmendarezTransplant News

By Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger  As a living kidney donor, I often hear from people who have recently been diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or have a relative who is a kidney patient.  These patients have usually been given little information about the advantages of living kidney donation and almost no guidance on how to maximize their chances of finding a donor.  Many providers, who are highly experienced in the medical and surgical …

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: How Can it Help Improve Transplant Care?

Mayra AlmendarezTransplant News

Are you interested in learning about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: How Can it Help Improve Transplant Care? Click the link below. At the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to: • Identify how to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop risk indices to predict transplant success. • Distinguish characteristics of kidney patients more likely to drop out of transplant evaluation. • List 3 structural and community-level factors that are associated …

Searching for a donor – tips that work

Karen HandelmanTransplant News

By Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger  Whenever someone hears my story about becoming an altruistic kidney donor they are astounded. You mean you read about your recipient in the newspaper and you decided to give away a kidney? How random is that? In some ways, the story is even more random that most people realize. I read about a woman who needed a kidney in my local Jewish weekly, the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, the last week of …

Dr. Amy Waterman and Parsa, member of the Rising Stars program at Houston Methodist

It takes a village part 1: One more new surgeon:

Karen HandelmanTransplant News

My friend Joe Sinacore and I work in the field of kidney transplantation together, he in New Jersey and me in Houston. One evening we ate dinner together and he shared, “My taxi driver really wants to help his son Parsa, an incoming high school senior, get into medical school.” He explained that Peter Rajabi, his driver from the airport, had told him that most hospitals had stopped offering many opportunities to high school and …

Our lab celebrates the Rising Stars program

Karen HandelmanTransplant News

Healthcare institutions must develop new approaches to educate and inspire a diverse group of individuals to seek careers in healthcare. The Rising Stars Summer Enrichment program at Houston Methodist was developed to increase the confidence of high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue careers in medicine and to build a pipeline for supporting these individuals. Listen to Dr. Waterman and the students discuss the program and how it’s working!

Transplant patients help each other prevent cancer

Karen HandelmanTransplant News

An article written by Dr. Waterman was recently featured on the Sage Perspectives website. It discussed how Transplant Recipients’ International Organization (TRIO) approached Dr. Waterman to help design an online tool for kidney transplant patients who are at an increased risk of developing cancer. Dr. Waterman partnered with other medical professionals, health literacy experts, and members of the TRIO community. The resulting website (Post-Transplant Cancer Project) allows visitors to manage their cancer risk by learning about: …

LaShara Davis

Mentoring program to promote inclusivity in biomedical research

Karen HandelmanTransplant News

The Patient Engagement Research Lab is pleased to announce that LaShara Davis has been awarded a grant through the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) through her involvement in the Obesity Health Disparities program (OHD) which focuses on obesity prevention, treatment and community-based interventions. “I am excited to have the opportunity to expand my research to include obesity, which is the single-most intervenable factor leading to chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and ultimately …

A living donor’s thoughts on a new calculator for hypertension risk

Karen HandelmanTransplant News

Written by Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger Of all the potential risks facing living kidney donors, three inter-related conditions are typically top of mind – diabetes, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease. Transplant centers attempt to screen for all three risk factors, typically using pre-determined numerical cut-offs to decide who will be accepted and who will be rejected as a donor. Donor candidates are given some information and some say in how these numbers determine their status, …

Living Donor Protection Act graphic with image of capitol building

A good first step…let’s do more!

Karen HandelmanTransplant News

Written by Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger A bipartisan Congressional leadership team from both houses introduced new federal legislation on April 27 designed to protect living organ donors and promote organ donation. The Living Donor Protection Act (H.R. 2923) was introduced by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Congressman Troy Balderson (R-OH), Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Congressman Gregory F. Murphy, M.D. (R-NC), …

Living Donation Storytelling Project home page showing video and 4 buttons

Celebrating partnership and Donate Life month

Karen HandelmanTransplant News

As Donate Life Month continues, we celebrate the partnership that the Patient Engagement Research Lab and Sanofi have with the Living Donation Storytelling Project. Our very own Dr. Amy Waterman was interviewed for a story on the Sanofi website. “I hope people will see themselves in the living donors and patients who are featured on the website because those touched by kidney disease are truly diverse. I hope that the shared peer-to-peer stories will impart …

Giving patients a voice

Karen HandelmanTransplant News

Houston Methodist spotlighted the work of Dr. Waterman and the Patient Engagement Research Lab in an article on their website. We love this quote they included… “What I find exciting about our work in the Patient Engagement Research Lab is that we don’t assume we fully know our patients from the get-go. Our research uses established methodologies that really get into the world of a patient and hear what they want and need as opposed …

Living Donor Protection Act

Attending the National Kidney Patient Consumer Roundtable

Mayra AlmendarezTransplant News

A living donor’s perspective Written by Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger In early March I joined the virtual National Kidney Patient Consumer Roundtable, organized by the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), the oldest and largest independent kidney patient organization in the country, to present information to its members on “Timely Issues Impacting Kidney Transplant Patients, Drug Innovation, and Living Organ Donors.” As a living kidney donor and advocate, I was primarily interested in the last …