Transplant Ambassador Program “brings the patients to the patients”

Listening to patient perspectives is at the heart of a new strategy to boost kidney donation.

The Transplant Ambassador Program is a patient-led initiative that will connect past kidney donors and recipients with individuals who are facing a transplant or thinking of donating a kidney. By offering peer mentorship and support, the program is aimed at addressing one of the major barriers to living donation identified by patients.

A 2016 workshop attended by kidney donors, recipients, and family members found lack of education about living donation to be a significant obstacle. Participants agreed that in-person support from trained peer mentors would dispel misinformation and encourage potential donors.

Based on this feedback, Can-SOLVE CKD patient partners Susan McKenzie and Leah Getchell have spearheaded the development of the Transplant Ambassador Program. The program is a component of a Can-SOLVE CKD research project led by Dr. Amit Garg that aims to boost Canada’s stagnant rate of living donor kidney transplantation. This is important, as transplantation offers patients a longer, better life at a fraction of the cost of dialysis.

The Transplant Ambassador Program is scheduled to roll out this fall in 13 regional renal clinics across Ontario. A further 13 clinics will be added in 2019.

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