Melissa Blevins-Bein, Living Donor

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It was a serendipitous event that led to my first encounter with Risa...

Excerpted from the forward in “Shift Your Fate: Life-Changing Wisdom For Proactive Kidney Patients”

She was a patient in our transplant program at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, where I was the Operations Manager responsible for overall management of the abdominal solid organ transplant programs, including the Living Kidney Donor Program—a cause I feel deeply passionate about both personally and professionally.

From the beginning, it was clear that Risa and I had a common interest in “pro-active” management for chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients and in promoting living kidney donation. Our common interest grew into a shared purpose—and our “thought bubble” grew to read: “We Can Do More!” We agreed there was much work to be done—Risa in her world and me in mine.

We heard from patients that the information they were provided was often unclear, incomplete or missing. Assumptions were being made by providers on behalf of patients that dialysis would be the treatment plan, rather than giving patients the information and opportunity to explore transplant options.

We knew that assumptions like those could adversely alter the course of a CKD patient’s life. We also knew from the data that a certain percentage of CKD patients are not eligible to be transplant candidates. However, it is also true that many CKD patients could write a different end to their story if they were just given the right information at the proper time.

I had the privilege of witnessing Risa’s transformation journey to freedom—and was even allowed the opportunity to play a role. Not only do we share the same hope for others, we also share one set of kidneys.

That’s right. On June 8, 2010, I became a living kidney donor by donating my left kidney to Risa. The surgeries occurred simultaneously. It was my team of physicians, nurses and technicians who either performed or assisted in this surgical miracle that allowed me to give new life to Risa.

It was an invaluable experience to be both an RN and Operations Administrator on the “other side” of our system. One of the most gratifying experiences in being a living kidney donor has been the opportunity to witness the recipient bounce back metabolically after transplant. To know that someone’s life is improved as a direct result of a decision made by me—there are no words to describe the “feel good” that derives from that.

Melissa Blevins-Bein, RN, MS

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