15 Sep Living Kidney Transplant Result of Community Partnership and Education

Collaboration could lead to more transplants in the future

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 31, 2017)— A middle Tennessee man will receive a living kidney donor transplant from his pastor on Tuesday, September 5, at Saint Thomas West Hospital.

Carl Higgins recently set the living donor process in motion when he asked his REACH Kidney Care transplant coordinator, Christa Lawson, if she would display kidney transplant information at Grace Church of the Nazarene to educate the congregation.

“I was thrilled that Carl wanted me to attend his church and offer transplant education. He put me in touch with Pastor Jonathan Trees who welcomed me. I found the congregation to be curious about organ donation, kidney failure, and what they could do to help,” said Lawson. “As a society, we struggle to openly discuss kidney failure and the need for help. Most people don’t know that living kidney donation is an option. That’s why community education is so enlightening.”

Pastor Jonathan Trees was knowledgeable about dialysis, but he admits that he didn’t really understand the toll it takes on a person until you know someone on dialysis.

“It wasn’t until my wife and I sat around with friends that we realized how kidney disease and dialysis was impacting their life. That’s how it became personal for us. At that point, we had to take action. We had the knowledge of what can happen, what a solution might be for them, and to walk away from it would have been wrong,” said Trees.

Three members of the Grace Church of the Nazarene congregation are battling kidney failure. Each is hoping for a kidney transplant. 21 parishioners who heard the final segment of the Live Generously series on Sunday morning took the next step to sign up for screening to see if they could become a donor.

Pastor Trees led by example. He was one of the 21 potential donors who turned out to be a match for Carl Higgins.

“Kidney donation became a way for me to not just talk and pray about healing but literally a way to become a part of the solution,” said Trees. “I was surprised at how easy it was. I felt like the team that evaluated me as a potential donor had my best interests in mind each step of the way. I feel educated about the entire process. I hope that more people have the opportunity to learn about kidney failure and how easy it is to become a donor.”

Carl was diagnosed with Wegener’s disease in March of 2010. Under the care of nephrologist, Dr. William Pettus of Nephrology Associates, he was referred to REACH Kidney Care to learn more about managing kidney disease. The goal was to delay kidney failure as long as possible, but make an informed choice among available options should kidney failure become imminent.

“REACH Kidney Care helped me make sense of what kidney disease is. Through education and care coordination, the team at REACH became my support system,” said Higgins. “They were with me every step of the way. Christa is the one who encouraged me to learn about living kidney donation. It is with her help that I’m scheduled for a kidney transplant now.”

One member of the congregation has received a deceased donor kidney transplant since the REACH donor sign ups took place. A third parishioner is still waiting to see if there will be a match from the list of potential donors. There is hope that a second living kidney donor transplant will occur.

“A living donor is the most powerful way to offer an extension of life and a life that is more fulfilling for those going through dialysis or those who are waiting for a kidney,” explained Trees.

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network 2,973 Tennesseans are waiting for a life-saving organ, of which 2,628 need a kidney. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease which can lead to irreversible kidney failure. Early detection and lifestyle changes can help to prevent or delay kidney failure. Once kidneys fail, dialysis or a transplant is needed to live. To learn more about kidney disease, visit http://www.reachkidneycare.org/kidney-disease/. To register to be an organ donor, visit https://www.donatelife.net/register/.



REACH Kidney Care is a division of Dialysis Clinic, Inc. It is a community-based organization that strives to improve the health of all people with kidney disease every day. Individuals with kidney disease can visit REACH Kidney Care with a referral from their doctor. The appointments are at no cost to the individual. For more information visit www.reachkidneycare.org.


People with kidney disease deserve the best care and hope for a better life. DCI is the only national healthcare provider that delivers comprehensive care along the entire continuum of kidney disease. As a non-profit provider since its inception in 1971, DCI has consistently put patients first. DCI provides the best care among national kidney care providers and invests a substantial portion of its resources to improve this care. With more than 240 outpatient dialysis clinics in 28 states, DCI is the nation’s largest non-profit dialysis provider. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, DCI employs over 5,000 people serving approximately 15,000 patients on dialysis and over 4,500 patients with chronic kidney disease. DCI’s services include in-center hemodialysis, home therapies and partnerships with hospitals to provide in-patient care. The United States Renal Data System has found DCI to have the lowest mortality and hospitalization rates among national dialysis providers since 2002. DCI operates under the mission “We are a non-profit service organization. The care of the patient is our reason for existence.” For more information visit www.dciinc.org.