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Life After Dialysis: Recapping our Council Conversation on the Transplant Journey


The Northwest Kidney Council team recently hosted our latest "Council Conversation" that brought together a distinguished panel to discuss critical issues in kidney transplantation.

 

The panelists included Adrian Miller, a transplant recipient and board member with Dialysis Patient Citizens; Dr. Chris Blosser from the University of Washington Transplant Center; and Will Maixner, senior national transplant director for DaVita. The discussion covered three main areas: navigating the transplant process, challenges and barriers to transplantation, and innovations in the field.

 

Navigating the Transplant Process

 

The conversation began with an in-depth look at the steps and requirements for receiving a kidney transplant. Dr. Chris Blosser highlighted the complexity of the process, which starts with rigorous assessments to determine a patient’s suitability for transplantation. This includes evaluating overall health, compatibility matching, and understanding the patient’s medical history.

 

Adrian Miller shared his personal journey through the transplant process, emphasizing the emotional and logistical challenges. He explained how important it is for patients to have a robust support system and to stay informed about each stage of the process — as oftentimes, patients don’t know that they need to ask to be placed on the list. He reiterated the importance of advocating for yourself throughout your journey.

 

Will Maixner discussed the critical role of dialysis providers in preparing patients for transplantation, and that it begins with a culture of understanding that a transplant is — in most cases — the best option for a patient. He pointed out that dialysis centers often serve as the first point of education and support for patients contemplating a transplant, guiding them through the initial assessments and helping them get onto waiting lists.

 

Challenges, Barriers, and Equity

 

The panelists then turned to the significant challenges and barriers faced by patients in need of a kidney transplant. Financial constraints were a major focus, with many patients struggling to afford the necessary pre- and post-transplant care. Dr. Blosser addressed the issue of the lack of donors, a perennial challenge that prolongs the waiting period for many patients.

 

A particularly poignant part of the discussion was on disparities in access to transplant services. Will Maixner spoke about the mistrust that many underserved communities have in the healthcare system at large, and referenced a time when a patient’s family asked him not to get a transplant due to fear of the system.

 

Adrian stressed the need for policy changes to ensure that all patients, regardless of their socioeconomic status or background, have equitable access to life-saving transplant services — with programs like Medicare supplemental insurance and living organ donor protection laws an essential component. All three panelists acknowledged that much work remains to be done.

 

Innovations and Research

 

Despite the challenges, the conversation ended on a hopeful note with a discussion on recent innovations and research in kidney transplantation. Dr. Blosser highlighted new approaches to expanding the donor pool, including outreach strategies in rural parts of the region.

 

Will Maixner spoke about DaVita's ongoing research initiatives aimed at improving patient outcomes and increasing the availability of donor organs. Adrian Miller expressed optimism about the future, noting that these innovations not only bring hope to patients currently on waiting lists but also inspire the broader kidney community.

 

Conclusion

 

We are always so inspired after hosting these “Council Conversation” events. After reflecting on this conversation, we are so grateful for the panelists' insights and look forward to working with our partners, providers, and elected officials to ensure equitable access to transplantation for all patients.




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