This Thing Called Life

LifeCenter

This Thing Called Life is a podcast about acts of giving, kindness, compassion, and humanity. Host Andi Johnson, will introduce you to powerful stories about organ, eye, and tissue donation from individuals, families and front-line health care teams, whose experiences will hopefully inspire you and remind you, that while life is hard and unpredictable, it’s also beautiful. We hope this podcast serves as a catalyst for you to register to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor.

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Episode 53:The Process Of Rescuing Organs For Transplantation, With Ethan Fuqua
3d ago
Episode 53:The Process Of Rescuing Organs For Transplantation, With Ethan Fuqua
On this episode of This Thing Called Life, host Andi talks about the donation process from the lens of the OPO, where they explore how the donation process unfolds within the Organ Procurement Organization. OPO is central for the multi-faceted process that is donation and transplantation. Today's guest is Ethan Fuqua who is an organ recovery specialist at Life Center. Tune in to hear more about the next steps in the process! Episode Highlights:  Before working at Life Center Ethan was employed as an EPIC analyst with Mercy Health and then before that he was a nurse's aide at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.The family service coordinator works with the family to walk them through the process of their loved one being a donor and then there is a transition where the ORS becomes a part of this process, says Andi.Once we have consent for donation, we begin an allocation process and that process is facilitated by the donation coordinators, says Ethan.ORS arrives at the OR before the patient comes to the OR. ORS arrives at OR to set-up equipment, to talk with staff about what they can expect, what they will need during the procedure and similar things.Once the donor is in the OR, we help with getting them onto the OR table, prepping, draping, and the procedure begins when our surgeon has formed a timeout, says Ethan.Ethan always thinks that someone is going to have a significant increase in their quality of life because of what he is doing today.Every department within the life center is working together, all integral and all working towards the same goal for the same mission, and he thinks that's what makes Life Center so good.It is kind of surprising for a lot of people when they hear that we send kidneys on commercial flights, says Ethan.Ethan has such a positive attitude, and he is super professional and very easygoing. Ethan talks about the most challenging part of his role as an ORS.While ORS are performing a lifesaving mission, they are also dealing with death and the emotional parts.Ethan doesn't know any OPO that absolutely requires a person to complete a specific degree program in order to be an Organ Preservationist or ORS.When you are working with the surgeons, you can't be timid. You got to know what you are talking about, where you are and what you're doing, says Ethan. Everybody has their role in the OR and we all have to be on point because there is no room for not knowing what you're doing, says Ethan.Ethan wanted a job that allowed him to make an impact that was positive on the world because as per him the goal in life should be to leave the world a little bit better than what we came into it as.In transplant you are intersecting so many different disciplines within science. There is just so much to learn in this field and so much to take in if you are someone who likes lifelong learning, says Ethan.It is extremely important that everybody become registered as a donor because please consider the gift that you can give is literally life. It is the ability for somebody else to live, says Ethan. 3 Key Points: A person in the role of ORS has the ability to multitask and understand the various specific steps that have to happen because of rescuing the organ. “There really is not much room for error”, says Andi.Through a team collaborative effort, we can really get a lot of work done and all the ORS have a great collaborative relationship with each other and all other teams, says Ethan.Leadership recognizes that this is heavy work, and we need to be able to speak to people who can help us process hard feelings because sometimes debriefing with colleagues isn't enough, says Ethan.    Resources Mentioned:
Episode 53:The Process Of Rescuing Organs For Transplantation, With Ethan Fuqua
3d ago
Episode 53:The Process Of Rescuing Organs For Transplantation, With Ethan Fuqua
On this episode of This Thing Called Life, host Andi talks about the donation process from the lens of the OPO, where they explore how the donation process unfolds within the Organ Procurement Organization. OPO is central for the multi-faceted process that is donation and transplantation. Today's guest is Ethan Fuqua who is an organ recovery specialist at Life Center. Tune in to hear more about the next steps in the process! Episode Highlights:  Before working at Life Center Ethan was employed as an EPIC analyst with Mercy Health and then before that he was a nurse's aide at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.The family service coordinator works with the family to walk them through the process of their loved one being a donor and then there is a transition where the ORS becomes a part of this process, says Andi.Once we have consent for donation, we begin an allocation process and that process is facilitated by the donation coordinators, says Ethan.ORS arrives at the OR before the patient comes to the OR. ORS arrives at OR to set-up equipment, to talk with staff about what they can expect, what they will need during the procedure and similar things.Once the donor is in the OR, we help with getting them onto the OR table, prepping, draping, and the procedure begins when our surgeon has formed a timeout, says Ethan.Ethan always thinks that someone is going to have a significant increase in their quality of life because of what he is doing today.Every department within the life center is working together, all integral and all working towards the same goal for the same mission, and he thinks that's what makes Life Center so good.It is kind of surprising for a lot of people when they hear that we send kidneys on commercial flights, says Ethan.Ethan has such a positive attitude, and he is super professional and very easygoing. Ethan talks about the most challenging part of his role as an ORS.While ORS are performing a lifesaving mission, they are also dealing with death and the emotional parts.Ethan doesn't know any OPO that absolutely requires a person to complete a specific degree program in order to be an Organ Preservationist or ORS.When you are working with the surgeons, you can't be timid. You got to know what you are talking about, where you are and what you're doing, says Ethan. Everybody has their role in the OR and we all have to be on point because there is no room for not knowing what you're doing, says Ethan.Ethan wanted a job that allowed him to make an impact that was positive on the world because as per him the goal in life should be to leave the world a little bit better than what we came into it as.In transplant you are intersecting so many different disciplines within science. There is just so much to learn in this field and so much to take in if you are someone who likes lifelong learning, says Ethan.It is extremely important that everybody become registered as a donor because please consider the gift that you can give is literally life. It is the ability for somebody else to live, says Ethan. 3 Key Points: A person in the role of ORS has the ability to multitask and understand the various specific steps that have to happen because of rescuing the organ. “There really is not much room for error”, says Andi.Through a team collaborative effort, we can really get a lot of work done and all the ORS have a great collaborative relationship with each other and all other teams, says Ethan.Leadership recognizes that this is heavy work, and we need to be able to speak to people who can help us process hard feelings because sometimes debriefing with colleagues isn't enough, says Ethan.    Resources Mentioned:
Episode 52:  The Role Of The Family Service Coordinator At Life Center, With Jen Malof (Third Installment Of The Donation Process From The OPO Lens Series)
Jul 27 2022
Episode 52: The Role Of The Family Service Coordinator At Life Center, With Jen Malof (Third Installment Of The Donation Process From The OPO Lens Series)
During this episode of This Thing Called Life, host Andi Johnson continues the series on the full donation process from beginning to end; If you have missed the previous episodes in this series, you are encouraged to go back and listen to get the full picture. Today Andi speaks with Jen Malof, who is a Family Services Coordinator.  Tune in. Episode Highlights:  Andi reviews the speakers in this series and the collaborative process of the organ donation process. Jen Malof has been with Life Center for just over a year. Andi explains how the Family Services Coordinators are the third critical piece in the donation cycle.What does a Family Services Coordinator do to facilitate donation?Andi asks Jen what led her into this field. Jen was looking to do something that felt larger than myself and helped other people, and working on a team.What is the training and background needed for someone who is a Family Services Coordinator?Jen shares about the variety of backgrounds that make up the current team they have.Jen explains how they set realistic expectations in the interview process and also shares that it is a very supportive culture.Family Service Coordinators are on call a certain number of times. Jen explains how it works.Andi and Jen discuss the unique dynamic of the role of Family Service Coordinator.It all begins with the family. You are a nurturer as a Family Service Coordinator. Jen explains the importance of the team members noting and setting up the next one who will carry on with the family in a successful way.Andi asks Jen what she considers to be the most challenging part of her role.There are office responsibilities, trainings, and on call for the position.Donation actually brings meaning and something positive to the donor families; In a way it brings some peace, comfort, and benefit to them. Jen explains how they see and experience that from the up close relationship with the families.There is extreme caution and care with analyzing the health of a potential gift and  never move forward unless it is healthy enough for recovery. In rare cases, a dcotor can be in surgery and realize the organ is not viable. Jen explains the heartbreak and challenge that is.Organ donors all have after care no matter what the circumstance.Andi asks Jen what is most rewarding about her job and Jen says she doesn’t have enough time to share all of the ways.What is the honor walk in honor of the donor?There are other memory making support services; Jen shares about them.What is the skill set of a Family Service Coordinator? There is a lot of information to communicate in real time and a lot of non-verbal skills as well.Families have to receive a lot of stats and information and there is a lot of paperwork and recording that has to take place also.Jen shares that she is a long time breast cancer survivor and how her life experiences help her relate to the families she works with. For more information, check out   3 Key Points: The organ donation process begins with a person who designated themselves to be a donor or their family who made the decision for that individual to be a donor.This life saving and life-changing gift all begins with that and is a collaborative process from start to finish.Family Service Coordinators fulfill the role of being the main point of contact for that family whose loved one has either chosen to be a donor or if that family makes that decision to move ahead with donation: to support them , to educate them, to answer their questions, adn to be with them throughout the entire process.Donation actually brings meaning and something positive to the donor families; In a way it brings some peace, comfort, and benefit to them. Jen explains how they see and experience that from the up close relationship with the families. Resources Mentioned: LifeCenter (website) (Facebook) (Instagram) (YouTube) (Twitter)Andi Johnson (website) (LinkedIn)
Episode 51:The Donation Process From The Organ Procurement Organization Lens, With Christenne Wilson
Jul 5 2022
Episode 51:The Donation Process From The Organ Procurement Organization Lens, With Christenne Wilson
During this episode of This Thing Called Life, host Andi Johnson continues the series on the donation process from the OPO (Organ Procurement Organization) lens. In the last episode we heard from Erica Randall of Donation Support Services. This week, Andi is speaking with Christenne Wilson, a long time staff member at Life Center; She is the Senior Donation Coordinator. She meets family in very difficult times. Tune in to hear about her experiences as it relates to the important process of organ donation.  Episode Highlights:  Many people believe that organ, eye, and tissue donation is just a service of the hospital but Andi shares how it is much bigger than that and requires the collaboration of many.Christenne has been with the Life Center for over 20 years and is currently the Senior Donation Coordinator. She explains her role as one of the individuals who handles the evaluation, medical management, organ placement, and logistics of the operating room for an organ donation.Andi asks Christenne to share what kind of training and background is required to do work like she does.Christenne shares her personal experience with organ donation about her sister who had epilepsy and cerebral palsy.What does brain dead mean? Christenne shares facts that listeners may not be aware of. She explains the difference between that and vegetative state or coma.Organ donation and the education around it has grown significantly over the years. Christenne explains her connection to the Life Center and how meaningful it has been to her on several levels.Christenne put herself to paraemedic school and applied as an organ coordinator.Andi asks Christenne how she prepares for her day and meeting with families in desperate times. What happens at the bedside to evaluate potential organ donation?Christenne shares that some cases have changed her forever and how it has been a blessing. What goes into supporting the families who are in contact with ?Andi talks about how COVID caused many people to reflect and seek more meaningful jobs.Andi asks Christenne to share what a typical work day looks like for a donation coordinator. Logistics and time frames are very important in the process; Christenne explains.A lot of communication is required for this job because of the many pieces that must come together.An average case lasts about 72 hours so that the right thing is accomplished with the donor.Christenne talks about when organ gifts are placed in other locations.The donation coordinators are very passionate about giving each individual the best preservation options.Have you thought about registering to be a donor? Find out more at Key Points Christenne shares her personal experience with organ donation when her sister passed away and saved several other lives.Organ donation happens through the collaboration of many. Andi and Christenne talk through the organ coordinator role and the piece it is in the overall process.Emotional taxation is high in the role that Christenne has. She talks about the challenges, blessings, and how she perseveres through.  Resources Mentioned: LifeCenter (website) (Facebook) (Instagram) (YouTube) (Twitter)Andi Johnson (website) (LinkedIn)
Episode 50: I Donated A Portion Of My Liver, And It Grew Back? with Courtney Schapier
Jun 21 2022
Episode 50: I Donated A Portion Of My Liver, And It Grew Back? with Courtney Schapier
During this episode of This Thing Called Life, host Andi Johnson speaks with Courtney Schapier, a liver donor, the sister of a liver recipient, and one of the Organ Donation Coordinators at LifeCenter. Upon learning about her brother’s need for a liver, Courtney made the incredibly brave decision to make a difference. Her story is simply amazing!   Episode Highlights:    Courtney has been an Organ Donation Coordinator at LifeCenter for the past 6-7 years.Donation Coordinators handle the medical management and evaluation for organ donors.Amongst other responsibilities, Courtney plays a large part in matching organs to donors.Sometimes, organ donation acts as the silver lining to families that are going through an incredibly hard time.Donation coordination is a 24-hour job because donation does not run on a 9-5 schedule.From the time that a case opens to the time it closes, Courtney is on the clock for 36 hours.Courtney uses CrossFit and a great support system as outlets for the high stress levels of this job.With such a high-stress job, it’s no surprise that there is a high level of turnover.There have been times where the stress of the job has made Courtney question her desire to be here.COVID brought everything to a screeching halt when it first exploded back in March.The sheer amount of unknown information has made the ongoing global pandemic that much scarier.Things have finally begun to get back to normal, meaning more lives are being saved via organ donation.In 2016, Courtney’s brother discovered a huge mass on his liver that required a transplant.Unfortunately, Courtney lost her father when she was only 2 months old, so her brother acted as a father to her.Courtney was informed that she was a donor match for her brother while supporting a family that was pulling life-support.The weight of the situation started to feel heavy when Courtney sat on the pre-op table.Sitting outside the OR doors on the pre-op table, Courtney was rolled back for surgery after only 20 or 30 minutes.There were a handful of signs that something was wrong with Courtney’s brother’s liver long before the doctors caught it.After everything was said and done, it took a 10-hour procedure for Courtney to donate over half of her liver.The first thing that Courtney can remember is getting sick immediately after surgery.Courtney finally got to see her brother when she was transferred to the ICU.It was a complete shift in lifestyle for Courtney from the moment that she found out she was a donor match for her brother.Finding living liver donors is more rare than finding living kidney donors.Both Courtney and her brother fully recovered and are as healthy as they can be today.TX Jet was kind enough to donate its services to fly Courtney and her family out for surgery.After her donation, Courtney was sure that she was at the right job at LifeCenter.Courtney was comforted by the knowledge that everything in her life made her the perfect donor for her brother.This year, Courtney is focusing on being more present when she is with loved ones.The amazing thing about donation and transplantation is the opportunity to potentially save a life.   3 Key Points: Organ Donation Coordinators manage everything from the moment a donor decides to donate, to the time that the organ is sent to its recipient.It takes a very special person to not only manage the responsibilities of being a Donation Coordinator, but also the rollercoaster of emotions that come with the job.Courtney donated just over 50% of her own liver, which was oversized, to begin with, to save her brother’s life.    Resources Mentioned: LifeCenter (website) (Facebook) (Instagram) (YouTube) (Twitter)Andi Johnson (website) (LinkedIn)TX Jet (website)
Episode 49: Understanding the Organ, Eye, And Tissue Donation Process,  A Series of TTCL Podcast with Erica Randall
Jun 14 2022
Episode 49: Understanding the Organ, Eye, And Tissue Donation Process, A Series of TTCL Podcast with Erica Randall
During this episode of This Thing Called Life podcast, host Andi Johnson kicks off a series about how the donation process works from the perspective of the Organ Procurement organization, which is what Life Center is. Andis guest today is a staff member of Life Center, Erica Randall. Have you ever wondered how the gifts of organ, eye, and tissue donations come to be? Tune in for the intricacies of this life-saving and life-healing process.   Episode Highlights:  The LifeCenter of Cincinnati, Ohio is 1 of 47 Organ Procurement Organizations that are under the umbrella of AOPO:The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations.  There are about 56 in total. The donation process is collaborative; Andi shares about the organizations that are involved and how they are interconnected.Today’s guest, Erica Randall, shares her role in donation support services, or DSS.What exactly is DSS and what do they do? Erica explains guidelines and how they reach out to families. What does it take to work in the DSS?Andi asks Erica to share what motivates her to go into the DSS everyday and do her work especially when she is meeting with families in tough circumstances who have often unexpectedly lost a loved one.There is a misconception that to be a donor, you have to be in perfect health. That is not the case. Andi asks Erica to explain.Erica’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and asked if she could still be a donor. In her case, she was and she was able to give the gift of restoring eyesight for two people when she passed. Erica shares how it changed the perspective for her family.Andi asks Erica to share with honesty what she finds most challenging about her role.There is a major ripple effect in the donation process for all of the families. The DSS is open 24/7, 365 days a year. Erica explains the shifts and needs.In 2006, Erica’s cousin was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. He became an organ and tissue donor. That is the first time she had ever heard of organ and tissue donation and the first time she had an experience with LifeCenter. In nursing school, for her senior capstone project, she chose to work with Life Center and sent up a table at the Batavia, Ohio BMV where they were educating people about donation. She knew she wanted to work for LifeCenter at that time.Andi shares about how Erica’s cousin’s family has done so much in the community to fuel the education efforts that LifeCenter does.Interested in positions at LifeCenter? Visit speaks from experience and explains how it is so rewarding to work for LifeCenter and be a part of the positive difference.Andi talks about the after-care department that follows families for 18 months after the death of a loved one. In a coming episode, there will be more information about it and someone from that department as well as the in-between pieces with coordinators.There are 106,065 people who are waiting for life-saving organ transplants and about 90,000 of those people need kidney transplants. Your decision to be a donor matters. For more information visit   3 Key Points: The Donation Support Services (DSS) are at the core of organizing organ, eye, and tissue donation through the stages. They give their all to the families providing comfort and remaining professional while collaborating with hospitals, coroners, etc.Erica shares what motivates her to work in the DSS and the impact that the work has.Andi and Erica discuss the opportunity in donation and how it provides healing and hope for so many involved on all sides.  Resources Mentioned: LifeCenter (website) (Facebook) (Instagram) (YouTube) (Twitter)Andi Johnson (website) (LinkedIn)
Episode 48: What We Need To Know About Liver Transplants, With Dr. Shimul Shah
Jun 7 2022
Episode 48: What We Need To Know About Liver Transplants, With Dr. Shimul Shah
During this episode of This Thing Called Life podcast,  we are re-airing an incredible interview with Dr Shimul Shah, the head of the Liver Transplant Program at UC Health. Dr. Shah and his team are utilizing ever-evolving medical technologies to help all those facing the liver-transplant process. He knows that it is vitally important to try to understand what the patient is going through so that they can best be served with their health problems. Tune in. Episode Highlights:  Dr. Shah runs one of the largest liver transplant programs in the country to help as many people as possible.In his 9th year with UC Health, Dr. Shah and his team have done over 750 liver transplants.COVID has presented some challenges in the world of liver transplantations because of its immunosuppressed patients.There are a number of things that must be considered with the introduction of a global pandemic before conducting transplants.Though they didn’t understand what was happening around the world, Dr. Shah’s team went ahead with multiple transplants.Many healthcare professionals had to come together when making protocols for transplantations during COVID.There has been a lot of success with telehealth and that proved useful for the Liver Transplant Team.After protocols were put in place, liver transplants were resumed at the same rate as before.Programs all over the country were forced to shut their doors for a small period of time while they figured out how to get ahead of COVID.There are more donors in the Midwest and South than there are on the East Coast and West Coast.A national policy of “sickest first” has allowed organs to be shared throughout a wider geographical region.Clinical trials are underway for pumps that pump the livers continuously during travel.The pump presents an opportunity to repair the damage that has been done to organs before transplants are conducted.Because of technology, more organs are being used today that would have never been used 5-10 years ago.Dr. Shah uses complete transparency when he gives his patients past results of treatment options.Patients can donate their livers at much older ages because liver cells constantly repair themselves.Dr. Shah originally wanted to be a liver and pancreas cancer expert, but a fellowship in liver transplant shifted his path if only slightly.Patients know when the care that a doctor shows is authentic and that they are all in on the process.It’s important to talk to patients as people and try to understand what they are going through.Dr. Shah helped lead the Living Liver Donor Program that launched earlier this year.New patients find out how sick they actually are and what all their options are before moving forward.Dr. Shah and his team do everything they can to help people get better without a transplant.During his free time, Dr. Shah enjoys playing tennis, basketball, and taking afternoon naps.COVID has made Dr. Shah’s family’s favorite activities, eating out and traveling, a little tricky.   3 Key Points: People with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to COVID-19, thus bringing a learning curve to those in the liver transplant field.Transplant systems all over the country were forced to shut down their programs when COVID first hit, but have since been able to resume transplants after implementing protocols.Patients with an extensive medical history have benefited greatly from advancements in technology due to the larger amount of organs that are now available. Resources Mentioned: LifeCenter (website) (Facebook) (Instagram) (YouTube) (Twitter)Andi Johnson (website) (LinkedIn)Dr. Shimul Shah (website)UC Health | Liver Transplant ProgramIn Shock - (Book)Dewey’s Pizza
Episode 47: A Mother’s Strength When Dealing With A Kidney Transplant Followed By Rejection, With Chasity Williams
May 24 2022
Episode 47: A Mother’s Strength When Dealing With A Kidney Transplant Followed By Rejection, With Chasity Williams
On this episode of This Thing Called Life, host Andi is speaking with Chastity Williams. She will tell her life story of how she ignored her high blood pressure problem and ended up on dialysis and the difficulties that led to a kidney transplant. Tune in now to hear her story.    Episode Highlights:  Andi shines light on the truth about donations. There is no age limit or medical conditions that prevent you from registering to be a donor or having the potential to be a donor. Even if you have been cancer-free for five years and have not received treatment during those five years, you could be a donor. Even if you have hepatitis, you could still be a donor. People who are into their 80s and 90s have been donors and have given the healing gifts of tissue and cornea.Even if you have active cancer, you can be a cornea donor. Andi encourages the listeners to renew and not remove yourself from the registry. If you say yes to donation, this is your opportunity to bless others when you have passed away; You can bless them as a donor. Chastity shares about her high blood pressure and how the doctor could not let her leave because it was so high; He ended up calling an ambulance and took her to the hospital. Chastity was young, 20 or 21 years old. She was always told that blood pressure affected older people, people who didn't eat right and people who were overweight and she didn’t fit any of those descriptions.Chastity has the habit of googling things and sometimes Google is very helpful. It told her about the White Coat syndrome.Andi explains what a White Coat syndrome is. It might be the feeling of anxiety that someone gets while visiting the doctor.Chastity's mother and father passed away when she was three years old. Her grandmother raised her and at the time when she got Chastity, she was pretty old.On top of high blood pressure, she developed an allergy that they couldn't figure out where it came from. They said it could be stress induced hives.Chastity wasn't consistent enough taking her medicines. One time she went to the emergency room, and they ran some tests, and they said, your kidneys look like they are starting to suffer. Every time Chastity went to a doctor’s  appointment, she ended up being hospitalized.Chastity's blood pressure reached 180/139. So, the doctors pumped her with all the medicine. It was then that she realized it was her new home till January as her baby was due then. Her baby was born on November 25th and he weighed 2 pounds and 14 ounces. He is Chastity's miracle son. Today he's 16 years old. He's doing fine. He had nothing wrong with him. Chastity started going to the doctor regularly and they just couldn't figure out why she was walking around every day with high blood pressure. She used to be on at least anywhere between 8 and 10 blood pressure pills twice a day. Every time she would go to the hospital, they would say that they had never seen somebody on so many pills who still had hypertensive episodes from time to time, and she ended up on dialysis.The dialysis made her look at life so much differently. That was when she just sat down and realized that she had been running at full speed for so long, and now she had slowed down and evaluated life.  Andi and Chasity discuss when it came time that she needed a kidney, how she asked people in her circles about donation, and who became her ultimate donor.For Chastity the first-week post-transplant was absolutely great. But after some time, her health deteriorated. She shares about the struggles and treatments. Chastity gives her insights into the patients who are kind of following the same pathway of ignoring some signs and some doctor's orders.  3 Key Points: Chastity shares how even though her blood pressure was high why she waited a year to go to the hospital.When Chastity used to work at a hospital, she used to tell her patients not to leave the room if they still had questions and to make sure the doctor answered those questions.Chastity was one of the people who thought if you get a transplant, you get better. But that didn't happen for her. She shares the journey and importance of taking care of your health and the role that organ donation has.  Resources Mentioned: LifeCenter | Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube|  TwitterAndi Johnson  website |LinkedIn Organ Donation Website
Episode 46: A Fifteen Year Old’s Decision To Register To Be An Organ Donor, With Aimee Cordrey
May 10 2022
Episode 46: A Fifteen Year Old’s Decision To Register To Be An Organ Donor, With Aimee Cordrey
On this episode of This Thing Called Life, Andi Johnson speaks with Aimee Cordrey. She will be sharing the gift of life that her son, Nicholas has given to many recipients and how influenced others to do the same. She will also be reflecting some light upon the life of her son and sharing her story of grief and pathway to healing. Tune in now for this special story.   Episode Highlights:  Aimee Cordrey is married to Darren Cordray. They have been married for over 20 years and been together for a little bit longer than that. They met in college, and they have two sons Richard, a 19 year old, and Nick, who would be 17, but he is forever 15. Both of them are athletes, very different yet very similar in their interests and just how they approach life.In the middle of the pandemic Aimee and her family had been quarantined like everyone else for quite some time. School had just ended. Nick had just finished freshman year of high school and it was Memorial Day. Nick and Aimee went shopping that day to get some hamburgers and some vegetables and different things to grill out.Nick hadn't seen his friends because of quarantine. Aimee allowed him to go meet some of his friends at a local ice cream shop that was within walking distance of their house because one of his best friends was leaving for vacation the next day and she was going to be gone for two weeks.Nick decided to take a shower at night. All of a sudden Aimee heard the water go on and then they heard some really heavy, intense breathing, they were shocked. They thought it was our other son Richard, playing video games. She went to the basement, but it was not Richard, it was Nick.Nick loved life and he approached everything with this attitude of – "I can do it." His family really believed he was going to be okay and pull through.Aimee explains how and when they went about the conversation of Nick being an orgn donor. The hospital staff acknowledged all the protocols that they have in place, and they contacted Life Center.Nick had not yet been able to get his temps. He would have been eligible for them. The month that everything happened, he had actually registered as an organ donor.The letter that Aimee received said that Nick saved five people with seven organs, and probably impacted 40 to 50 others. The only thing Nick was unable to donate was his intestines, which they initially believed he was going to be able to do until they started doing the surgery.Aimee shares her thoughts on what it all meant to her, Darren and Richard to know that Nick helped so many people by donating his organs. “Learning that sometimes bad things happen to good people and learning to be ok with that and it is not even being ok with it, it's just accepting it- that is one piece of it. The donation piece brings that pride.” -AimeeAimee thinks that being able to talk about organ donation enables her to talk about Nick. Andi feels like Aimee is doing so much just to help people understand the magnitude of the donation and its impact.Andi asks Aimee about the project that she is working on at his school in his honor. One of Nick's friends, Grayson, started a change.org petition. He wanted to have the school board name the soccer field after Nick.There isn't a lesson here when it comes to losing a son. The only lesson that Aimee has learned is that bad things happen to good people, and she has learned that when you encounter a loss like this you integrate it into your life, you don't overcome it.Grief is something that has stages and some stages may be re-visited at times. It is ongoing.Nick loved everything. All of the time he was researching,  reading to understand deeply, caring deeply, everything was with passion, everything was with full intent. He didn't do anything without truly caring about it. If he was gonna do it, he was doing it 100% all in and that's what Nick was, and he is. 3 Key Points: Nick had a brain aneurysm that his family didn't know about. Nick did not complain of a headache that day. He didn't have any signs of anything that day. He had an amazing day, and it was that quick. They called 911. They were very quick, they took him to the hospital, his aneurysm ruptured three times. At the hospital, they did surgery on him and for 9 days his family thought Nick was going to make it. Aimee tells the listeners how Nick was able to help other people through the gift of life that he was able to give. Each one of us is different. Unique as people, Aimee thinks everyone's grief is very unique. She needed to be around other people. Aimee thinks that the donor family council is amazing. They are a source of strength. They are unshakable. Resources Mentioned: LifeCenter | Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube|  TwitterAndi Johnson  website |LinkedIn Organ Donation Website
Episode 45: Family Genetics That Lead To The Need For a Liver Transplant For Tony Burdette
Apr 26 2022
Episode 45: Family Genetics That Lead To The Need For a Liver Transplant For Tony Burdette
On this episode of This Thing Called Life, Andi will speak with Mr. Tony Burdette, who will discuss his involvement with organ donation. Tony's life was saved in August 2019 via a liver transplant. His father passed down a genetic disease called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency to him. He was diagnosed in the early 1990s, with symptoms including exhaustion and low platelet counts. Tune in for his great story. Episode Highlights:  Tony had never given much thought to organ donation, but sometimes it takes a crisis to bring it to the forefront of your mind.Tony's father underwent a liver transplant in 1997, but it was a painful experience since, after 14 hours, the surgeons came out and told them that he probably wouldn't survive. But, happily, doctors were able to get it to work sufficiently, and he received a second transplant two days later. The hereditary condition does not impact everyone. They can live perfectly well without it. However, something triggered Tony's liver in early 2019, and his liver began to fail rapidly.Tony had all the excess fluid in his body, common for people with liver failure. So, he had to have the procedure called a thoracentesis, and over seven months, he had to have that procedure done 52 times.Tony couldn’t keep having these procedures every other day. So at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for evaluation at the Transplant clinic, he was put on the list rather quickly around the beginning of May and received his liver on August 3rd, 2019.It was a quick illness for Tony and a painful one, but thankfully his transplant and the surgery were very successful. He was discharged from the hospital just five days later without any complications.Tony has a brother. He obviously has the deficiency, but he hasn’t had any symptoms so far. He is under the care of a GI, and they are keeping close tabs on him.Both of Tony’s children have a deficiency as well, and they are under the care of the liver transplant team at children just out of precaution. The doctors check them every year and have liver scans done to keep a check on them and make sure everything is ok.About three weeks after Tony’s transplant, he received two letters in the mail from elementary-age girls who wrote him a letter and said that they just wanted to let him know that he had received their mother’s liver.Tony has studied music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory, one of the greatest in the world, and it is such an honor to be accepted there.Tony is the artistic director of an organization called Aviva Voices Choral Organization. It’s an organization that he founded, and it provides high-quality community choirs for children, youth, and adults.The program’s cornerstone is the brand new work for a course and orchestra called the breath of life, and it was written actually before the pandemic.Often, being open with what you are going through can impact other people. When Tony was going through all this, we posted periodically about this on social media as encouragement for people.Tony encourages people to not be afraid no matter what you are going through in life. Be open, share, and find people that you can talk to and know that your story can impact people.   3 Key Points: Alpha-1 antitrypsin is an enzyme and it is created in the liver. The deficiency is that the enzyme gets trapped in the liver and creates a deficiency in the lungs. But when that enzyme gets trapped in the liver, it can cause liver damage.Tony has spent his whole career serving as a professional musician, singing professionally with opera and orchestras around the country, and doing a lot of conducting with choirs and teaching singing.Tony’s concert’s date is Saturday, April 30th, the last day of the month and the last day of donating life month. The concert is taking place at Christ Church Cathedral, which is a huge, beautiful venue.  Resources Mentioned: LifeCenter | Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube|  TwitterAndi Johnson  website |LinkedIn Organ Donation Website
Episode 44: The Link Between The African American Community And Kidney Disease, with Shelly Sherman and Stephanie Jackson
Apr 12 2022
Episode 44: The Link Between The African American Community And Kidney Disease, with Shelly Sherman and Stephanie Jackson
On this episode of This Thing Called Life Podcast, host Andi Johnson is going to talk to Shelly Sherman and Stephanie Jackson. They are discussing kidney health and an exciting new project that is being launched to shed light on kidney disease as well as prevention. No doctor or medical expert will kill you for your organs; In fact, no medical professional is aware of your donor status until your death is declared. Tune in for more information!   Episode Highlights:    Host Andi Johnson has a few big asks. Will you join us and be a part of this interconnected life sustaining community by registering to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor? Will you make the commitment to become more educated about living donation and championing the donation cause?Shelly is associated with the Cincinnati, Ohito chapter of The Links, Incorporated and she served as the Health and Human Services Facet Committee chair.The Ohio central chapter was granted an award by Baxter International for increasing the awareness of kidney health in the communities in which Shelly lives and primarily in the African American community.What is GFR? Shelly has been working hard in the community to make sure people know where they are regarding their GFR, which lets them know how well their kidneys are functioning and what they can do to maintain kidney health.The Links organization was founded in 1946 on the premise of friendship, and Shelly wants to uplift and elevate people by providing health information.Stephanie and Shelly first met through collaboration with The Center For Closing the Health Gap. Shelly had goals in mind based on the grant they received regarding the number of people that they needed to touch and the number of community partnerships that they needed to do.Shelly and Stephaine share the experiences they have had with training sessions and connecting in the community. They hope people will continue to listen to the podcast and continue doing some things and spreading the word in their communities.When people are ill, you can see it on their skin and eyes. You can notice the effects of kidney and liver illness on the skin and other body systems.Garlic is great for decreasing inflammation; It has Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and Manganese, a great alternative for your seasoning. If you want to decrease your psyllium, you can add more garlic, which is great for your heart and your kidney.The one thing is to avoid canned and packaged chicken breast because those can contain sodium and other preservatives.Raising awareness and making small changes goes such a long way in promoting healthier lifestyles. There is a great ripple effect too when you share information like this with those in your family and circles.  3 Key Points: Blueberries are an important food for kidney patients. They serve as antioxidants and are very good for healing. In addition, they help your body to increase urination.People talk about dialysis and transplant, and these are things that you want to avoid. By opting for a healthier lifestyle and changes in the food you eat, you can do that. There are so many ways you can just move your body, and Stephanie always tells people 15 to 20 minutes is sufficient. Make sure that your body is doing something that it doesn’t do every day.    Resources Mentioned: LifeCenter | Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube|  TwitterAndi Johnson  website |LinkedIn Organ Donation Website
Episode 43: One Man’s Honest Journey Dealing With Kidney Disease, With Idris Gray
Mar 29 2022
Episode 43: One Man’s Honest Journey Dealing With Kidney Disease, With Idris Gray
On this episode of This Thing Called Life Podcast, host Andi  is going to talk to Mr. Idris Gray, who will share his experience about kidney donation. Mr. Idris is extremely resilient, and he had some health challenges throughout his life, but he always maintained, “I can do it, don’t quit, push forward attitude.” Tune in now for his story.   Episode Highlights:  Idris used to play football but didn’t maintain his lifestyle. Due to poor eating habits, family history, and sedentary lifestyle at the age of 16 he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.At the age of 27, something wasn’t right about Idris’s body. One day at home, coming back from the office, he collapsed on the couch. The doctor at the hospital told him that he needed to control his diabetes and get more rest because he had acute kidney failure.The doctor told Idris that if he didn’t receive a kidney in two years, he would start dialysis, and he was right. Idris experienced other health conditions like diabetic retinopathy, which rendered him blind for three months. He was blessed to have surgery on his left eye, but his right eye is still gone.Idris also has a diabetic condition called diabetic circles, which is a deterioration of the midfoot joining the right foot.In July 2013, Idris received a phone call from the kidney and pancreas transplant department at UC, and they asked if  he was ready for kidney transplant.This donation and transplantation journey isn’t like a linear path. Idris explains.Many times, the more we ignore the symptoms, the diseases grow into a bigger monster than they could have been before.Idris’s keypoint to share is prevention over intervention because you are going to have to deal with it, but you have a chance to stop it from forming complications. It took about a month and a half for Idris to recover from immune suppression and anti-rejection medications because those medications are extremely strong. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and people should not have to choose what they can pay for when it comes to medications that will keep them healthy.Creatinine is crucial in your body, created by the kidneys, and the higher the creatinine levels, the more prone that your kidney is to go through failure. Creatinine level 1,1.2, or 1.3 is a good range for kidney patients, but Idris’ level was about 3.4.In November 2019, Idris again started experiencing the major symptoms like itching of the skin, fatigue, swelling, and he started outpatient dialysis in March 2020, in the middle of the pandemic.There are certain blood tests you have to do, and you have to go through orientation, and there is a whole different process that you have to do just to become a candidate for another transplant.As humans, we tend to try to put our best foot forward for people to see, and when we are candid about certain things, it gives other people strength to be candid as well. Idris had parathyroid surgery, and many people don’t understand what parathyroids do, but it controls certain hormones in your body, including your calcium.Idris follows the law of divine oneness too. Everything is connected to everything elsewhere, and the same feeling and belief have a corresponding effect on others and the universe around us.Your health is wealth. If you are not feeling well or ever exhibiting any of the symptoms, please go and get tested. 3 Key Points: People tend to ignore symptoms that they are experiencing. In Idris’s situation, he ignored it out of fear and thinking that he didn’t have time for his health.  Idris explains the process that one has to go through for a second kidney transplant.Your health is wealth. Idris often looks at other people’s situations and says, you know what, mine is not that bad. He knows he has to move on, and be an advocate for other people.  Resources Mentioned: LifeCenter | Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube|  TwitterAndi Johnson  website |LinkedIn Organ Donation Websitenkf.org