This Thing Called Life
Episode 17: The Gift of Eye and Tissue Donation with Robert Winter

Episode 17: The Gift of Eye and Tissue Donation with Robert Winter

March 30, 2021

During episode 17 of This Thing Called Life podcast, host Andi Johnson speaks with Robert Winter, a man that has worked in the field of eye and tissue donation for over twenty-five years. Though it’s difficult, Robert and his team do their best to comfort grieving families while educating them on the benefits of donating!

 

Episode Highlights: 

  • There is a lot of misinformation about organ donation that exists because of a mistrust of the healthcare system.
  • Robert has been in the field of tissue donation for over twenty-five years.
  • The medical field has been a strong interest of Robert’s for his entire life because it provides the opportunity to help people.
  • Robert has noticed that everyone in his field shares a common interest in wanting to make a positive difference.
  • The most life-saving gift for tissue donation is one of the human-skin graphs for burn victims.
  • Jason Schechterle suffered third and fourth-degree burns as a police officer in Phoenix when his car exploded after getting hit.
  • The details of Jason’s survival came down to seconds of circumstances and now he shares his story all over the country.
  • Hearing the stories of burn victims and survivors gives people perspective on just how important tissue donation is.
  • Danny Happy suffered his burn injuries as a ten-year-old and spent months in acute care, receiving over two-hundred feet of skin that saved his life.
  • Robert and his team are approaching families on one of the worst days of their lives.
  • Being able to express that tissue donations are going to help someone down the road is necessary when talking to families that have lost a loved one.
  • Families who have lost a loved one are burdened with making a lot of decisions and dealing with the decisions of their loved one.
  • The knowledge that their loved one is going to save someone’s life brings some sort of comfort to grieving families.
  • There are many stories of competitive athletes being able to return to their respective sports as a result of tissue donations.
  • AlloSource acts as step two of a three-step process by preparing tissue donations to be used in a surgical environment. 
  • A disconnect exists between medical practitioners and the origin of tissue donations for their patients.
  • Great joy can be brought to donor families by hearing back from those that have received the donation.
  • It’s very challenging to deal with families who have gone through an extreme loss on a day-to-day basis.
  • Sometimes, families refuse to donate regardless of the fact that their loved one made the decision to do so.
  • Robert finds that knowing that people’s lives are being saved and dramatically improved is the most rewarding part of his industry.
  • Focusing on the recipients and the donor families makes it easy for Robert to love his job.
  • The goal of organ and tissue donation must be to educate as many people as possible.

3 Key Points:

  1. Burn patients are very susceptible to infection and thermal regulation, making human-skin graphs incredibly vital to their survival.
  2. Jason Schechterle and Danny Happy are both motivational speakers who survived their burn injuries as a result of life-saving tissue donation.
  3. One of the difficulties with expressing the benefits of tissue donation to grieving families is that it could be a long time before the positive effects are felt from the donation.

Resources Mentioned:

This Thing Called Life: Community Heroes 03- All things Kidneys with Lincoln Ware

This Thing Called Life: Community Heroes 03- All things Kidneys with Lincoln Ware

March 23, 2021

Andi and Lincoln talk about National Kidney Donation Month on WDBZ 

Community Heroes is a special extension of This Thing Called Life’s podcast. In this series we talk to community leaders, share important information about organ and tissue donation, and honor those who have been instrumental in saving lives through the gift of donation. 

Resources 

https://lifepassiton.org/ 

https://www.facebook.com/LifeCenterOH 

513-558-5555

Episode 16: Is Living Organ Donation The Best Option? With Dr. Madison Cuffy

Episode 16: Is Living Organ Donation The Best Option? With Dr. Madison Cuffy

March 16, 2021

During episode 16 of This Thing Called Life podcast, host Andi Johnson speaks with Dr. Madison Cuffy, an Associate Professor of Surgery and the Kidney Director at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Cuffy has built trust-filled relationships with his patients throughout the years and loves nothing more than to see them live their lives to the fullest after getting their transplant. March is national kidney month!

 

Episode Highlights: 

  • Dr. Cuffy started his medical journey back in 2002 during his residency, before doing a transplant fellowship at New York Presbyterian.
  • Growing up in Brooklyn, Dr. Cuffy was first introduced to Cincinnati by Talib Kweli and Hi Tek.
  • As a 14-year-old, Dr. Cuffy was volunteering in a hospital cleaning instruments.
  • Even to this day, no one in Dr. Cuffy’s family has experience in medicine, nor any clue what a transplant surgeon does.
  • Dr. Cuffy was born in the Caribbean and grew up with his great aunt in New York.
  • One of the most common misconceptions surrounding organ donation is that the medical community will let you die.
  • After being in transplant and seeing how one can help create life during a time of despair, Dr. Cuffy became an organ donor.
  • The medical community is not out to harm organ donors for their organs, contrary to popular belief.
  • COVID has disproportionately impacted the African American community, leading to a rise in a renewed mistrust of the medical community.
  • It’s who passes on the information about medical issues like COVID that is important.
  • Despite all the concerns and misinformation that has been passed along, Dr. Cuffy highly recommends getting the COVID vaccination.
  • According to the statistics, on average, 22 people die every day waiting on an organ transplant.
  • While most of his focus is on kidney transplants, Dr. Cuffy does work with all transplant organs.
  • There is an access problem for people who need a kidney transplant and are on dialysis.
  • Over the span of a year, Dr. Cuffy performs around 70 kidney transplants.
  • During the pandemic in 2020, the transplant team was able to get recipients in and out with anyone contracting COVID.
  • Dr. Cuffy facilitates living kidney donation as the best option to treat end-stage renal disease.
  • Andi has noticed that people of color tend to shy away from sharing their donation needs with other people.
  • Socioeconomic issues and disadvantages can make it more difficult for certain patients to share their stories.
  • People who don’t want to share their stories need a donor champion to do it for them.
  • There are different forms of literacy, so Dr. Cuffy makes sure his patients know that there is no stupid question.
  • It’s important for patients to speak up about their questions to their doctor so that they don’t go get misinformation from another source.
  • If your physician is too busy to answer your questions now or in the future, you may need to find a different provider.
  • Dr. Cuffy feels rewarded by his job when he sees his patients experiencing life after their transplant.
  • His grandmother’s advice to be who he is, even when things get tough, gets Dr. Cuffy through his hard days.
  • Raised without his parents in Brooklyn, Dr. Cuffy knows first hand that you can do anything you set your mind to.
  • Dr. Cuffy has always had an extra gear that has allowed him to outwork everyone around him.
  • When he goes back to Brooklyn now, Dr. Cuffy gets a different kind of respect from the people he grew up with.
  • Dr. Cuffy thoroughly enjoys going to J. Alexanders in Cincinnati because of the sheer amount of professional African Americans that go there.

3 Key Points:

  1. While volunteering at a hospital with the hopes of staying off the streets as a 15-year-old boy, Dr. Cuffy had the opportunity to watch a kidney transplant up close, and that’s how he chose the transplant route.
  2. Unlike in other cities that have multiple transplant programs with different surgeons, Cincinnati has a single transplant program where the doctors act as one unit.
  3. Living donor kidneys last anywhere from 15 to 20 years, recipients don’t have to wait on a list to get one, and the quality is usually very good.

Resources Mentioned:

This Thing Called Life: Community Heroes 02

This Thing Called Life: Community Heroes 02

March 9, 2021

Community Heroes is a special extension of This Thing Called Life’s podcast. In this series we talk to community leaders, share important information about organ and tissue donation, and honor those who have been instrumental in saving lives through the gift of donation.  

Episode 15: A Life of Dedication to Changing Lives with Paula Franckhauser

Episode 15: A Life of Dedication to Changing Lives with Paula Franckhauser

March 2, 2021

During episode 15 of This Thing Called Life podcast, host Andi Johnson speaks with Paula Franckhauser, a woman who has been in the fight for a long time but is now retiring from the kidney transplant game. Paula knows all things kidney and has dedicated almost half of her life to changing the lives of so many!

 

Episode Highlights: 

  • Paula turned 65 recently and thinks that after over 20 years of service, it’s time for younger nurses to take over the fight.
  • For the last 5 years, Paula has taken over the responsibility of handling the kidney transplant waitlist.
  • Some people have to wait years on the kidney transplant wait list depending on their blood type.
  • Paula feels as though she has become part of the families of those who are waiting on a kidney transplant.
  • After working on the floor as a nurse and as a case manager for a few years, Paula fell in love with her role in the transplant office.
  • Paula’s 30-year nursing career started out in long-term care but she has held a plethora of roles since then.
  • When Paula first started at Christ’s hospital in Cincinnati, there was only one nurse.
  • Most people are severely undereducated about how their kidneys work, thus leading to unhealthy habits.
  • The morning after a transplant, people have color back in their eyes and a smile on their face.
  • Many people don’t know how well they can do after a kidney transplant with only one kidney.
  • People make the mistake of thinking that just because they don’t match their loved one, they can’t make a difference.
  • The National Kidney Registration, NKR, offers a solution to a massive issue in a network that stretches across the country.
  • Paula has enjoyed watching friendships evolve from kidney transplants between the recipients and the donors.
  • Kidney donation programs are incredibly picky with living donors, but 20-years ago, there wasn’t enough known genetically.
  • The biggest problem that non-compliant recipients have is that Medicare goes away after 3 years.
  • If any complications come from the kidney transplant for donors, Medicare covers them for life.
  • Paula has found an incredible amount of joy in making the phone calls to long-waiting recipients to tell them they have a kidney.
  • For young nurses and doctors who are looking to join the transplant field, they need to get involved in their off-time.
  • The Transplant Breakfast and Kidney Walks are great ways for young medical professionals to get involved.
  • 2020 has taught everyone the importance of coming together as a community to lift each other up.
  • One of the biggest myths surrounding healthcare is that medical professionals will not save a life if they are a registered donor.
  • The communication between donation centers and hospitals has improved an incredible amount over the last 20 years.
  • Paula, unfortunately, lost a patient at the beginning of her career but did everything she could to comfort his wife.
  • When you are as involved in and connected with the lives of recipients as Paula is, a bond is formed forever.
  • The Kidney Foundation is always accepting volunteers, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
  • Through the pandemic, The Christ Hospital only slowed down a little with living donors but did as many overall as they ever do.

3 Key Points:

  1. The education process around kidney function is massively underdeveloped, and Paula would love to establish better education starting in high school.
  2. The parent-kidney donation program involves someone who doesn’t match their loved one but does match with someone else on the list and vice versa.
  3. Medicare stops covering prescriptions after only 3 years, so many of the recipients who don’t work are forced to find jobs in order to afford their medicine.

Resources Mentioned:

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App