Women in Transplantation: Taking Leadership in Transplantation to Solve the Organ Shortage Crisis

On January 29, Dr. Amy Waterman visited the Transplant Diagnostics Division of Thermo Fisher Scientific to provide her perspective on how living kidney donation can solve the organ shortage crisis as well as to discuss the initiatives she’s driving as a Professor Medicine at UCLA, the Deputy Director of the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation, and the founder of Explore Transplant, a national consortium of leading experts in transplant and health literacy.

Amy Waterman

Amy Waterman | Patient Voice Series

Dr. Waterman's incredible work is transforming transplant care by focusing on the needs of kidney patients, living donors, recipients, and transplant families, and providing them a forum to share their personal transplant stories.


Through the creation of patient education programs, Dr. Waterman's team is determined to end the organ shortage crisis.

Hosted by the LA Chapter of Thermo Fisher’s Women’s Employee Resource Group, Dr. Waterman gave a talk on her professional experiences and research, including the work she does as a committee member of Women in Transplantation (WIT), to eliminate barriers to organ donation and helping patients make more informed choices about transplantation.

Dr. Waterman’s background in social psychology, patient education, and behavior change led her to explore how healthcare educators can provide useful information on transplantation to patients in need of transplant and potential donors. Early in her career, she was stunned to find that majority of organ donors do not regret their choice to donate after the surgery. In fact, she found that most were deeply thankful for the opportunity, and some expressed that the experience gave their life a sense of purpose.

"I keep having this recurring thought... where is the patient voice in all of this [educational programs]? And I think back to this moment with donors that I had when I was 25, right. That changed my whole arc of my career listening to the truth of the patient... maybe if we could capture the authentic stories of living donors and people who receive living donor transplants... maybe we could get to a truth, that even great education can't do... so we bulit this [explorelivingdonation.org]. "
Amy Waterman | Social Psychologist and patient advocate

Recently, Dr. Waterman is leading and expanding the Explore Living Donation project, a forum where patients and donors can share their kidney transplant experiences. By harnessing the universal power of storytelling, Dr. Waterman hopes to call attention to the varied personal experiences of donors, recipients, and transplant families as well as raise awareness of the need for living kidney donation.

The organ shortage crisis is a solvable problem: this is a belief that is supported by Dr. Waterman’s vast body of research. But currently many potential donors don’t have access to the information that might prompt them to consider donation, and many disparities occur both in the U.S. and internationally make access to transplantation difficult for some patients. By designing innovative programs and research, Dr. Waterman and her team are truly improving the lives of transplant patients and their families by changing transplant care, a mission that Dr. Paul Terasaki originated and one that the Transplant Diagnostics team strives to uphold every day.

To read more about Dr. Waterman’s pioneering work in education and access to resources for transplant patients, please visit Explore Transplant, the Explore Living Donation, UCLA Health, and the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation.

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