Waiting for a lifesaving transplant can be challenging. As a living donor ambassador at UPMC, Kathy Monteverde helps patients and their families by educating them about the lifesaving benefits of living donation.
Kathy is a valued member of the transplant team and a former living-donor liver transplant recipient. She shares her top three pieces of advice for living donor transplant recipients and their loved ones.
Tip 1: Don’t Be Afraid to Share Your Story
Patients are sometimes hesitant to share their stories. But it’s important to let potential donors know about the need for a donor organ, as well as some understanding of the patient’s journey.
“Often, there are close family members, friends, or people in your community willing to become a living donor,” Kathy says. “You should educate everyone you talk to about the importance of living donation and tell your story. Because to find a living donor, you need to have them connect with you in some way.”
There are many ways to share your story. You can use social media or have private conversations with people at work, at church, or at social gatherings. Letting people know about your journey can play a vital part in finding a living donor.
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Tip 2: Rely on Those Who Have Been There
Sometimes, seeing what others have been through during their transplant journey can make a significant impact on the decision to choose living donation. Kathy’s living donor experience made her want to give back to patients who are in the same position she was in 2015.
“I offer different advice to different people depending on where they are in their journey,” Kathy says. “For instance, one phone call might just be that we talk a little bit about what I went through during my journey.”
For more support, follow the UPMC and Donate Life America Living Donor Transplant Facebook page. There, you can be a part of the living donor community. You can share your story with others who have been or are currently going through the living donation process.
Tip 3: Follow Medical Advice
It’s important to follow doctors’ recommendations before and after a transplant. Kathy makes sure patients and caregivers know the importance of adhering to medical advice.
“My wife was my primary caregiver when I was going through my post-transplant journey,” Kathy says. “There were times where I needed to finish my food or drink but had no desire to. That’s when she told me that I needed to finish my meals to keep up my muscle strength. Everyone just wants what is best for you, and you should always know that.”
From that day forward, Kathy knew she needed to do everything that her doctors and caregivers told her to do. She knew the goal of transplantation was to get back to living a healthy life.
“I have four grandchildren that I get to see now, all because living donation saved my life,” she says.
For more information on living donation or to register to become a living donor, visit our website.
About Transplant Services
For more than four decades, UPMC Transplant Services has been a leader in organ transplantation. Our clinicians have performed more than 20,000 organ transplant procedures, making UPMC one of the foremost organ transplant centers in the world. We are home to some of the world’s foremost transplant experts and take on some of the most challenging cases. Through research, we have developed new therapies that provide our patients better outcomes — so organ recipients can enjoy better health with fewer restrictions. Above all, we are committed to providing compassionate, complete care that can change – and save – our patients’ lives. Visit our website to find a provider near you.