UPMC Living Donation Liaison

At UPMC, we believe in the power of living donation and consider it a first-line treatment option for people with end-stage kidney disease. With approximately 100,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list in the U.S., finding a living donor is crucial.

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Role of the UPMC Living Donation Liaison

Cherie Peters, living donation liaison for the UPMC Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, supports families and patients on the kidney transplant waiting list in their search for a living donor. “When patients are added to the kidney transplant waiting list, I contact them to discuss what the process is for living donation at UPMC,” said Cherie. “We also talk about things like how to spread the word of organ donation and the different ways to share their stories.”

Living-donor kidney transplant has many benefits. It allows patients with kidney disease to receive a transplant sooner, helps reduce the shortage of organs, and saves the lives of the people on the transplant waiting list.

Meet Cherie

Cherie’s passion for living donation began when a childhood friend passed away waiting for a transplant. “That experience was devastating for me,” said Cherie. “But I knew I wanted to help people just like my friend and to make sure families and friends do not have to experience something like that in the future.”

Prior to becoming a living donation liaison at UPMC, Cherie worked for the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE). After having a portion of her right kidney removed due to a tumor, she became a local program director for the National Kidney Foundation to help people who were in the same position she was.

“Often, patients don’t know where to begin when searching for a living donor, so it’s great to be able to steer them in the right direction,” said Cherie.

Tips for Patients and Families

A vital part of Cherie’s job as a living donation liaison is to provide patients and their families with the resources and support they need. Below are a few of Cherie’s tips for navigating the living-donor kidney transplant process.

1. Start sharing information about your need for a living donor transplant early and often and never give up on the process. There are some cases in which patients identify a living donor within weeks or months of their diagnosis and get their transplant shortly afterward.

The average wait time for a deceased-donor kidney transplant is about five years.

2. Don’t look at sharing your story as a burden to others. Instead, reframe it as sharing an update. Let people know that you need a kidney transplant and that living donation is the best option. If they cannot donate for any reason, that’s OK. Ask if they can help you spread the word instead. Sending emails to co-workers, hanging up fliers around town, and posting your story on social media are great ways to get your story out there.

3. Don’t stress about your blood type when searching for a living donor. Even if the donor isn’t compatible, there are always other options, such as a living-donor kidney exchange.

4. Include the living donor registration webpage whenever you can while sharing your story. Make sure potential donors spell your first and last name correctly when they enter it on the website. This is vital for pairing potential living donors with the correct recipients.

For more tips, contact Cherie at petersc5@upmc.edu or 412-215-2051.

If you or a loved one needs a living-donor kidney transplant, visit the UPMC Living Donor Champion website for resources on how to find a living donor. There, you can also register for upcoming living-donor kidney transplant Champion workshops or view recordings of past events.

You can also join the UPMC Living Donor Champion Support Group Facebook page to engage with others throughout the transplant community.

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.