I would like to recognize the Transplant Division's Living Donor Institute (LDI) Nursing Team. Through our shared vision of CCHESS we were able to achieve the status of the largest living donor kidney transplant program in the United States in 2017. This is the first time Saint Barnabas Medical Center's Transplant Division has achieved this honor! While we are extremely proud of this achievement and our ability to help facilitate so many life-enhancing transplants, we are also very proud of the nursing teamwork that has brought us to this point.
The nurses of the Living Donor Institute are dedicated to promoting living donor kidney transplant as the best treatment option for our patients with chronic kidney disease because we know that living donor kidney transplants, on average, last about twice as long as deceased donor kidney transplants. We also know that about 1/3 of the recipient/living donor pairs that come to Saint Barnabas Medical Center are incompatible by blood or tissue type leaving many living donors unable to donate to their loved ones. Creating innovative programs within the Living Donor Institute to allow incompatible donors to donate and increase our ability to facilitate living donor kidney transplantation was very important and shows our commitment to healthcare excellence. Patients who receive a kidney transplant have a significantly increased life expectancy as well as improved quality of life.
The Living Donor Institute nursing team has been together for many years and has been an integral part of creating and sustaining very innovative and complex programs that help so many pairs undergo successful compatible transplants. These programs include Altruistic Donation, Kidney Paired Donation, Program for Incompatible Transplants, and the Compatible Share Program. This year we also initiated a Living Donor Champion Program for recipients on our waiting list who do not have a living donor. This nurse-led evening program educates patients and their champions on how to speak to family and friends about living donation. After an education program, we offer to help them write letters and emails and practice their conversations about living donation. To date, 2 patients who participated in our program now have living donors in evaluation and we hope will be transplanted soon. These were patients who would have waited 5-7 years for a deceased donor transplant! We strive to provide superior service by improving our processes and developing new programs every day.
Since joining the Transplant Division 2 years ago, I have been caught up in the whirlwind of this dynamic nursing team. They not only teach me new things every day but also show me what nursing teamwork means. They have helped me to understand the importance of maintaining quality care no matter how difficult or how many extra hours of dedication that can take. These nurses provide compassionate care and treat every patient as part of our family and our team.
Each nurse on our team cares so much about each life they have changed for the better and work together to develop programs to help more patients achieve transplantation. Their empathy and kindheartedness far exceed any other team I have worked on. There is nothing like the feeling of seeing our patients with the biggest smiles on their faces after transplant, especially when the journey to get there was long and hard. One recent example was a young female patient who was growing very ill because her kidneys were approaching complete failure and her nephrologist wanted to start dialysis. This also meant she needed to have a surgical procedure to create a fistula in her arm for dialysis. The nursing team rallied together to ready her for a living donor transplant and avoid the fistula surgery in her arm. The Living Donor Institute team did not give up on her. With many meetings, phone calls and help from her brother, this young woman was transplanted. Our team checked in on her after the surgery and she stated with a huge smile on her face, "Thank you so much for everything you guys did. I didn't know how sick I felt until I woke up with a new kidney. I would have had to go on dialysis if you guys didn't care so much!" Those are the moments that we work for every day and the reason I am so proud of the Living Donor Institute Nursing Team.