Small Things Matter for Organ Transplant Recipients

By Edward F. Hollinger, MD, PhD

An organ transplant can only happen if there is an organ donor. When we encourage community members to consider becoming organ donors, we usually begin by describing how recipients benefit from transplantation. Mostly, we talk about the “big” things: a patient with cirrhosis from hepatitis C or liver failure from a Tylenol overdose who doesn’t die, a patient with kidney failure from hypertension who no longer needs dialysis (and statistically will live longer as a result), or a patient with end-stage heart failure who gets to see her children grow up because of a heart transplant. However, we often forget about the smaller but no less dramatic ways that organ transplants affect recipients’ lives.

During my transplant fellowship, I cared for a man in his mid-50s who had been a brittle diabetic since his teens. His diabetes eventually caused kidney failure, and he had to start dialysis. He was listed for and soon received a simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant. Because of his multiple medical problems, he had a difficult post-transplant course. He had several readmissions to the hospital, mostly because of nausea and vomiting from the damage that diabetes had caused to his stomach and bowel. We all felt that he was a bit depressed that he had not recovered as quickly as we had hoped (and he had expected). Continue reading

Rush Kidney Transplant Nurses Named Team of Year

Nurses from the kidney transplant program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois

Seated (from left): Theresa Partida-Aguirre, RN, Husai Kelliher, RN, and Damaris Echevarria, RN. Standing: Brad Hinrichs, MBA, Elizabeth Myers, RN, Linda Murphy, Sarah Papadopoulos, RN, BSN, Maria Sieczka, RN, Mary Hellmich, BSN, RN, and J. Robert Clapp, Jr., FACHE.

When several nurse coordinators left the kidney transplant program late last year, the other nurse coordinators in the program either took on new duties, worked extra days, assumed an increased patient load or otherwise restructured their work to ensure that the many patients seeking kidney transplants at Rush continued to receive high-quality care.

In recognition of their dedication and hard work, the Rush kidney transplant nurse coordinators team received the Team of the Year Award.

Pretransplant nurse coordinators play an integral role in the transplant process, serving as the initial contact between the patient and the transplant program. These coordinators screen patients with end-stage kidney disease to identify viable candidates for kidney transplantation.

They also work closely with transplant surgeons and nephrologists to provide consistent quality care as patients progress through the referral, evaluation and pretransplant management and listing processes.

The pretransplant nurse coordinators currently are responsible for 454 patients who are awaiting a kidney transplant at Rush and another 400 other patients who are undergoing medical evaluations in order to be put on the waiting list for transplant. Continue reading