Living Donor Navigator Program

At UAB Medicine, we are continually developing new ways to increase the number of donor kidneys available to our patients, so they may minimize their time on dialysis and on the organ waiting list. At the same time, we are committed to helping our living kidney donors more easily navigate the complexities and medical requirements of the donation process and help ensure that they receive the necessary care and support after donating a kidney.

These two objectives come together in the UAB Living Donor Navigator Program, which was launched in mid-2017 and is provided entirely free of charge.

Why did we create the Living Donor Navigator Program?

One solution to the shortage of deceased-donor kidneys is living donation, by which a person donates one of his or her kidneys to someone whose kidneys have failed. To help overcome the barriers involved in identifying a potential living donor, each patient identifies a “living donor champion” to oversee the search for a compatible kidney. In the six months since the program’s creation, UAB already has performed six transplants of kidneys whose donation is directly attributed to the advocacy role played by living donor champions.

Our program provides the champion and the patient with training, educational materials, and other resources designed to help them be more comfortable with initiating conversations and spreading awareness about living kidney donation. The goal is to improve the chances of locating a donor, given that some patients may be too sick, too busy with treatment and other responsibilities, and/or too withdrawn from social circles to effectively manage the search. In some cases, the patient simply may not want to ask others to donate such a priceless gift. Choosing a living donor champion helps eliminate the need for patients to serve as their own advocates.

One solution is living donation. To overcome the barriers involved in identifying a potential living donor, we have developed the Living Donor Navigator Program. In this program, each patient identifies a “living donor champion” to oversee the search for potential kidney donors. We provide the champion and the patient with educational materials and other resources designed to help them be more comfortable with initiating conversations and spreading awareness. The goal is to improve the chances of locating a donor, given that some patients may be too sick, too busy with treatment and other responsibilities, and/or too withdrawn from social circles to effectively manage the search. In some cases, the patient simply may not want to ask others to donate such a priceless gift.

Who can be a living donor champion?

Anyone! Most patients choose a spouse, family member, or friend as their champion. It is not necessary for the champion to become a donor. The only requirement is that the champion is at least 18 years old.

What is required of living donor champions?

Our program consists of five meetings that are held every two weeks. Each session lasts approximately two hours, and a different topic is discussed each time. Living donor champions use the information and skills gleaned at each meeting to begin looking for potential donors and spreading awareness about living kidney donations. Participants are asked to keep a monthly log of their progress. They also are encouraged to document what worked well for them and what additional resources may be helpful. Living donor champions receive parking vouchers to cover the cost of parking during meetings, and lunch is provided for Saturday sessions.

Living donor navigators

The other component of the Living Donor Navigator Program is the navigation aspect itself. Potential donors are assigned a living donor navigator to help steer them through the pre-donation process, surgery, and recovery. Living donor navigators are trained UAB Medicine employees who help potential donors "navigate" the living donor evaluation process by answering questions, assisting them with completing required paperwork, setting medical appointments, and ensuring that donors have the support needed after surgery. In addition, the navigators are responsible for training and assisting the living donor champions. The program is modeled after the highly successful navigator program developed by the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The goal of the Living Donor Navigator Program is to increase the number of living donors, improve transplant success rates, reduce the amount of time donors and recipients spend in hospitals and emergency rooms, and ease donors’ concerns throughout what can be a long and difficult process.

Contact our Living Donor Navigator Program

For any questions regarding the Living Donor Navigator Program, please email Daagye Hendricks at dharvill@uabmc.edu or Beverly Berry at bmberry@uabmc.edu, or call (205) 975-2449.

Click here to learn more about how you can share the gift of life by becoming an organ donor.

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