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Image of Colleen and Alonzo Jamison

Former Basketball Star Alonzo Jamison Teams Up with Wife Colleen Jamison in Support of Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

WESTWOOD, Kan. (June 22, 2020) — Initially hesitant to talk about his need for a kidney transplant, Green Ribbon Champion Alonzo Jamison has found his voice. He now formally advocates for people to become registered organ, eye and tissue donors, years after undergoing dialysis and, later, receiving a kidney transplant from a living donor.

For the second year of his Green Ribbon Campaign, former University of Kansas power forward Jamison is partnering with a fellow donation advocate: his wife, Colleen Jamison. An attorney, Colleen spends much of her free time volunteering for the National Kidney Foundation and testifying for pro-donation legislation.

“I think education is really important, and I want to do whatever I can to get the word out,” Colleen said.

While Alonzo waited for a lifesaving kidney transplant, he underwent almost two years of nightly dialysis treatments.

“Physically, it was a chore,” Colleen said. “I wasn’t in his head, so I can’t even imagine how it must have been for him mentally.”

After keeping his diagnosis largely under wraps, Alonzo eventually decided to share with others his need of a kidney transplant.

“I had always encouraged Alonzo to be public with it, and he was reluctant,” Colleen said. “Then something happened to change that: A young man who Alonzo used to coach in basketball was public on social media about his medical issues. And Alonzo and I talked about it and decided that, if this young man is brave enough to go public, then maybe it’s time that Alonzo do the same.”

Alonzo and Colleen published a call for help on social media, and news stations that previously had covered Alonzo as a basketball player contacted him to find out more and help spread the word. Eventually, one of Colleen’s business acquaintances, Wichita native and Army veteran Shekinah Bailey, asked how he could be tested to potentially donate a kidney to Alonzo. Bailey was a match, and he soon donated one of his kidneys to Alonzo.

“After his transplant, Alonzo looked so much healthier — which he was, because he had a kidney that was functioning properly,” Colleen said.

Alonzo added: “Shekinah didn’t know me, and he had no obligation to help me, but that’s the kind of person he is. When it came down to saving my life, he stepped up to the plate. Through organ donation, people from all walks of life can provide these amazing gifts for each other.”

Alonzo and Bailey now are a team, bonded for life through this unique and humbling experience. Alonzo also speaks to the importance of his other MVP off the court.

“My wife, thankfully, is doing a lot to raise awareness for donation,” Alonzo said. “She was there for me when I went through my dialysis and things of that nature. I am so grateful that she was there for me.”

Everyone can be a registered organ donor — regardless of age or medical history — and the registration process is quick and easy. Individuals can sign up at ShareLifeMidwest.com or at the DMV when obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or ID card. More information about how to help support organ donation is available at mwtn.org/community-outreach.

 

MTN CEO Jan Finn Joins MTF Biologics Board of Directors

EDISON, NJ (March 10, 2020) — MTF Biologics, a global nonprofit organization that saves and heals lives by honoring donated gifts, serving patients and advancing science, recently announced that Midwest Transplant Network President/Chief Executive Officer Jan Finn has joined the organization’s Board of Directors.

“MTF Biologics is excited to welcome Jan onto our Board of Directors,” said Joe Yaccarino, President and Chief Executive Officer at MTF. “Jan brings nearly 30 years of organ procurement experience to the MTF Biologics Board. She is extremely passionate about our work to provide high-quality tissue grafts from donated human tissue and understands the positive impact that the gift of donation has on the lives of both recipients and donor families. We know that she will be an invaluable asset to our MTF team.”

At MTN, Finn is responsible for overseeing the executive leadership of a team that directs all organ and tissue donation operations in Kansas and western Missouri. Under her leadership, MTN increased its donation rates and recovery of organs and tissues to record levels. MTN ranks in the top quartile nationally among other OPOs.

Finn currently serves on the Missouri Governor’s Advisory Council on Organ and Tissue Donation, the Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee for the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations and as a board member for the Gift of Life Foundation and the National Organ Donation Alliance. She is a past president of the North American Transplant Coordinators Organization and became a Certified Procurement Transplant Coordinator through the American Board for Transplant Coordination.

Finn began her career at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Missouri, working for 13 years as a registered nurse primarily in critical care. She holds undergraduate degrees from Missouri Southern State University and Pittsburg State University, as well as Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Kansas. She was a member of the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society and was credentialed as a CCRN by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

“I am delighted to join my friends at MTF Biologics as a member of their Board of Directors,” said Finn. “MTF Biologics remains a global leader in tissue and organ transplantation, and I look forward to working with the Board to help further MTF’s legacy of honoring donors and saving and healing lives.”

 

About Midwest Transplant Network

Midwest Transplant Network has been connecting lives through organ donation since 1973. As the federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) for Kansas and the western two-thirds of Missouri, Midwest Transplant Network provides services including organ procurement; surgical tissue and eye recovery; laboratory testing and 24-hour rapid response for referrals from hospital partners. Midwest Transplant Network ranks in the top 10% in the country among OPOs, which reflects the organization’s quality, professionalism and excellence in partnerships throughout the region. For more information, visit mwtn.org.

About MTF Biologics

MTF Biologics is a global nonprofit organization that saves and heals lives by honoring donated gifts, serving patients and advancing science.. They provide unmatched service, resources, and expertise to donors and their loved ones who give the gift of donation, people who depend on tissue and organ transplants, healthcare providers and clinicians and scientists.
The International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine (IIAM), a Division of MTF Biologics, honors donors of non-transplantable organs by providing their gifts to the medical research community to combat and cure diseases. Statline, also a Division of MTF Biologics, provides specialized communications and technology expertise to organ, tissue and eye procurement organizations, as well as the hospitals and patients that they serve. Its sister organization, Deutsches Institute for Zell-und Gewebeersatz – DIZG (The German Institute for Cell and Tissue Transplantation) expands its reach to patients across the globe. For more information, visit mtfbiologics.org.

 

Organ, Eye and Tissue Donors Saved or Improved Record Number of Lives in 2019

WESTWOOD, Kan. (Jan. 22, 2020) — Midwest Transplant Network is celebrating a record year in 2019, surpassing its previous milestones for number of organs transplanted, organ donors, eye/tissue donors and laboratory tests performed.

Midwest Transplant Network, the not-for-profit organ procurement organization serving Kansas and the western two-thirds of Missouri, enabled 929 lifesaving organ transplants — a 14% increase compared with 2018. Those gifts came from 282 donor heroes, which represented an 4% increase. MTN also procured gifts from 1,895 eye/tissue donors, a jump of 13% from 2018.

“Our record-breaking year is a testament to the selflessness of our donor heroes and their families, our hard-working staff and our dedicated hospital and community partners,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Jan Finn, RN, MSN. “I’m honored to have colleagues such as our clinical staff who work around the clock to care for donor heroes; those who support donor families throughout their grief journeys; those who ensure safety for transplant recipients in our lab; those who educate the community about the donation registry; those who work with our hospital partners; and the transplant center teams who care for the recipients.”

MTN’s award-winning histocompatibility lab performed 8% more tests compared with the previous year, totaling 31,277 tests assessing blood work for potential matches for organ, tissue and bone marrow transplantation, as well as post-transplant monitoring.

MTN’s performance metric increases reflect a national upward trend for the organ transplant system. The United Network for Organ Sharing reports that nationwide, clinical workers performed nearly 40,000 lifesaving transplants — the seventh consecutive record-breaking year for this data point and a 9% increase from 2018.

Despite transplant increases nationally and locally, the waiting list grows. More than 112,000 people around the country need a lifesaving organ transplant — with 446 of those people living in Kansas and 1,725 in Missouri.

MTN also continues its comprehensive multiyear initiative known as the Green Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness and encourage registration to the organ donor registry. The goal is to promote recognition of the green ribbon as a badge of honor representing the selfless act of becoming a registered organ, eye and tissue donor and the lifesaving impact that donation can provide.

Supporting the campaign are the Green Ribbon Champions, a diverse group of local and regional leaders and well-known personalities who are passionate about increasing the number of registered organ donors in our communities across Kansas and Missouri.

As a result of the campaign and MTN’s other awareness efforts, 80% of adults in Kansas and 78% in Missouri are registered organ donors. While those numbers are strong, MTN is committed to raising them even higher in 2020 because the need for donors still outpaces the number of registrants.

“While I am incredibly proud of the care our staff provided donors, donor families and recipients in 2019, we have so much more work to do to ensure we continue saving more lives and driving more people to the donor registry,” Finn said. “With the support we receive from our outstanding hospital partners, transplant centers, DMV offices and volunteers, the possibilities for what we can accomplish are limitless.”

* National transplant numbers, national waiting list number and state waiting list numbers as of Jan. 16, 2020.

 

About Midwest Transplant Network

Midwest Transplant Network has been connecting lives through organ donation since 1973. As the federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) for Kansas and the western two-thirds of Missouri, Midwest Transplant Network provides services including organ procurement; surgical tissue and eye recovery; laboratory testing and 24-hour rapid response for referrals from hospital partners. Midwest Transplant Network ranks in the top 10% in the country among OPOs, which reflects the organization’s quality, professionalism and excellence in partnerships throughout the region. For more information, visit mwtn.org.

 

Midwest Transplant Network Performs Well Under Federally Proposed Rules to Enable More Organ Transplants

WESTWOOD, Kan. (Dec. 26, 2019) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced a proposal aimed at increasing the availability of organs for those waiting for a transplant and improving the accountability of organ procurement organizations (OPOs). Midwest Transplant Network (MTN), the OPO serving Kansas and the western two thirds of Missouri, ranks near the top of the nation’s 58 federally designated OPOs using metrics associated with the proposal.1

Based on the proposal, beginning in 2022, all OPOs will need to perform at rates consistent with the top 25% of OPOs’ current donation and transplantation rates. When considering 2017 metrics, MTN ranks third nationally in OPO transplant rate and fourth in donor rate.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal stems from President Donald Trump’s July 2019 executive order on advancing American kidney health.

CMS’ proposed rule would update conditions for coverage that OPOs must meet to receive reimbursement for procurement services from Medicare and Medicaid. Currently, the federal government assesses OPOs’ performance through self-reported data. The proposed rule will go into effect in 2022, at which point the government will use revised outcome measures to assess OPO performance with several goals: ensuring OPO performance is transparent and strong; supporting higher donation rates; helping shorten transplant waitlists; decreasing the number of discarded but viable organs and increasing safe, timely, lifesaving transplants.

“We’re excited to continue saving lives in partnership with our local hospitals and transplant centers, and our results demonstrate we are doing a great job,” said Midwest Transplant Network President and Chief Executive Officer Jan Finn, RN, MSN. “We are always looking for ways to improve and learn from other high-performing OPOs. We strongly support metrics that provide accountability for every organ procurement organization and transplant center to evaluate best practices.”

1 Using 2017 data and looking at donation rate measure and transplantation rate measure. Source: HHS.gov

 

About Midwest Transplant Network

Midwest Transplant Network has been connecting lives through organ donation since 1973. As the federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) for Kansas and the western two-thirds of Missouri, Midwest Transplant Network provides services including organ procurement; surgical tissue and eye recovery; laboratory testing and 24-hour rapid response for referrals from hospital partners. Midwest Transplant Network ranks in the top 10% in the country among OPOs, which reflects the organization’s quality, professionalism and excellence in partnerships throughout the region. For more information, visit mwtn.org.

 

Image of Alonzo Jamison and his living kidney donor, Shekinah Bailey, with text that says "Organ donation kept Alonzo in the game."

Former KU Basketball Star Joins Green Ribbon Campaign: Alonzo Jamison Gives Back After Organ Donation Saved His Life

WESTWOOD, KAN. (November 1, 2018) — Alonzo Jamison is intimately familiar with the highs and lows of being an elite athlete. But nothing could prepare him for the lows of a life-threatening illness, nor the highs of restored health made possible by the kindness of a stranger—his living kidney donor.

Image of Alonzo Jamison and his living kidney donor, Shekinah Bailey

Alonzo Jamison (right) and Shekinah Bailey (left)

When asked to compare his involvement in the Kansas Jayhawks’ 1991 Final Four run with receiving a kidney transplant, Jamison said, “This is much better.” The former standout power forward received a kidney from Wichita native and Army Veteran Shekinah Bailey, who worked with Jamison’s wife and felt moved to help.

“Kindness builds on kindness, and the upside to living kidney donation is the ability to change someone’s life,” said Bailey, humbly adding that his selfless deed cost him nothing “except a little Tylenol.”

Now, Jamison is sharing his story as the newest Green Ribbon Champion for Midwest Transplant Network. His goal, like that of the entire Green Ribbon Campaign, is to encourage more people in Kansas and Missouri to join the organ donor registry. Jamison joins three other local leaders who have been featured as Green Ribbon Champions so far:

  • Jeff Jones, president and CEO of H&R Block, whose father received a lifesaving living-donor transplant, shared his story to demonstrate the second chance that comes with organ donation.
  • Bryan Busby, chief meteorologist at KMBC 9 News, who once thought diabetes prohibited him from joining the registry and is now dispelling that and other myths about organ donation.
  • Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff, Miss Teen USA 2017, whose cousin saved and improved lives as a tissue and organ donor, is raising awareness about the need for more registered organ donors among people of all ages.

Both living and deceased organ donation is desperately needed in Kansas and Missouri, where nearly 2,500 people need lifesaving organ transplants. “We can’t rest on our laurels,” Jamison stresses, a point which is especially true for kidney donation (one of the few transplant types that offer the opportunity to be a living donor). Of the 2,500 Kansans and Missourians on the waiting list, three-quarters of them—nearly 1,900 people in total—need kidneys. Thanks to Bailey’s kindness, Jamison is no longer one of them. But he is a registered organ donor, and he wants you to be one, too.

Jan Finn, president and CEO of Midwest Transplant Network, echoes Jamison’s remarks. “Nationwide, an average of 22 people die every day due to lack of available organs for transplants,” she said. “We have the power to change that. Alonzo and Shekinah are proof of it.”

Starting today, the public will begin seeing Jamison and Bailey in a variety of advertisements across the region. The two men tell their story in a video featured on ShareLifeMidwest.com, which is also the website that directs people to the state donor registries for both Kansas and Missouri. Signing up at the DMV is another option. Either way, the process of registering as an organ and tissue donor is fast and easy, and it gives everyday people the chance to become extraordinary heroes for those in need.

Media Contact:
Michala Stoker
913-261-7355