RSN is Pleased to Present Hope Week's Esteemed Panel of Speakers

Hope Week emcee Lori Hartwell has made a difference in the lives of people with chronic kidney disease. Having lived with the disease since age two, she survived 40-plus surgeries, 13 years of dialysis, and four kidney transplants. Lori founded the patient-led Renal Support Network in 1993 to instill “health, happiness, and hope” into the lives of fellow patients. She is author of “Chronically Happy – Joyful Living in Spite of Chronic Illness,” an inspirational guidebook for handling lifestyle and other non-medical issues that come up in the course of chronic disease. She also hosts the KidneyTalk Podcast. Learn more about Lori Hartwell

Wendy Rodgers, M.Ed, MPH, is an educator with management experience. In 2009, she received a kidney transplant after a nine-year wait on dialysis. -She has expanded her expertise into advocacy for increased awareness and better health policies for the renal community. She has also served as a national spokesperson for lupus. She currently resides in Southern California.

Listen to a kidneyTalk podcast featuring Wendy Rodgers: What Is Lupus?

David B. Mount, MD, completed a residency at Toronto General Hospital, and a nephrology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he is Associate Chief and Clinical Chief in the Renal Division and Director of Dialysis Services. He is a member of the Renal Division at the VA Boston Healthcare System, and a Harvard Medical School faculty member. His research focuses on molecular physiology of renal urate transport.

Beth Morlang, RD, LDN, FNKF, is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in CKD and chronic disease Medical Nutrition Therapy. She is the Lead RD at Central Florida Kidney Centers. She has been an Akebia Speakers Bureau member since 2015, sharing scientific data supporting the use of Auryxia for control of serum phosphorus levels in adult patients with CKD on dialysis.

Raffi Minasian, MD, is a practicing nephrologist in the Los Angeles area with over 34 years of diverse experience. He serves as medical director for several facilities and has focused on managed care/ACO issues as they relate to the CKD/ESRD population, as well as home dialysis modalities. He currently serves on the California Dialysis Council and Renal Support Network Board of Directors.

Read an article by Dr. Minasian: Kidney Disease Can be a Real Pain

Madeleine Pahl, MD, FASN, is a Nephrology Specialist at the University of California, Irvine, in Orange, CA. She is the principal investigator at UC Irvine in the NIDDK-funded, national study, ”The Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes,” a multicenter study designed to identify genetic determinants of diabetic nephropathy in different ethnic groups using a variety of strategies to localize susceptibility genes.

Listen to Dr. Pahl’s KidneyTalk Podcast: Having a Baby on Dialysis

Mary J. Godinich, MD, is a nephrologist in Texas City, TX. She is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake and the Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital. She received her medical degree from Texas Tech University at Lubbock, TX, and has been in practice for more than 20 years.

Listen to Dr. Godinich’s KidneyTalk podcast: Pain Meds: How They Work and Safe Alternatives

Wilson Du, aka the Renal Warrior, is a Dialysis Patient and athlete. To be listed for a kidney transplant, he had to lose a significant amount of weight. He reached his goal, and is now listed, and is in search of a living kidney donor. In 2018, he traveled from San Francisco to San Diego to raise awareness for kidney disease and living donation.

Listen to Wilson Du’s KidneyTalk Podcast: Renal Warrior: The Power is Within You

Debbie Drayer, PharmD, is a pharmacist who has post-graduate training in dialysis and clinical pharmacy work with a nonprofit dialysis provider. In 2010, she transitioned to the biotechnology company Amgen, working in a medical support role and has supported the nephrology community in clinical research and educational initiatives ever since.

Dinesh Chatoth, MD, is currently supporting the evolution of Home Therapies at Fresenius Kidney Care. He is Medical Director of a Fresenius Kidney Care hemodialysis unit in Lawrenceville, GA, and a former Chairman of FMCNA’s East Medical Advisory Board. A member of the FMCNA Corporate Medical Advisory Board and the Fresenius Physician Technology Group, he is President and CEO of Georgia Nephrology in Atlanta and lectures extensively on chronic kidney disease management.

Listen to a KidneyTalk podcast featuring Dr. Chatoth: Thrive on Home Hemodialysis

Geoffrey Block, MD, is Associate Chief Medical Director and Senior Vice President of Clinical Research and Medical Affairs at U.S. Renal Care. He served as Director of Clinical Research and Partner at Denver Nephrology. He has served for 20 years as the principal or co-investigator for numerous clinical trials, and is widely published. Since 2000, he has been a manuscript reviewer for the New England Journal of MedicineJournal of the American Medical AssociationJournal of the American Society of Nephrology and American Journal of Kidney Disease, among others.

Listen to a KidneyTalk podcast featuring Dr. Block: Hope for Treating Rare Forms of Kidney Disease

Gail Dewald, BS, RN, CNN, is a senior level Clinician with expertise in Renal/Kidney Disease, Hemodialysis, Peritoneal Dialysis, Pediatric dialysis, Dialysis Clinic Administration, Regulatory Compliance, and Quality Management. She specializes in assisting dialysis facilities in identifying compliance issues with CMS regulations (and ESRD Network goals) through clinic audits and surveillance. She serves on the ESRD Network 14 Board of Directors and is a member of the National Quality Forum.

Listen to Gail Dewald’s KidneyTalk podcast: Nephrology Nurses: The Lifeline of Kidney Care

Katherine Soto is a retired special education teacher. She taught for over 20 years, mostly at the 6th grade level. She lives in Rialto, CA, with her husband, Victor, and their cat and dog. Married 33 years, she and Victor raised two daughters. The couple’s granddaughter, a light in their lives, will soon turn three. Katherine shares bits and pieces of her life on her blog, lifenotonthelist.com.

Read Katherine’s Blog posts: Nesting at Dialysis, and Thriving on Dialysis

Nieltje Gedney, the former Vice President and Treasurer of Home Dialyzors United (HDU), is now the Executive Director of HDU. She started home hemodialysis in 2014. From the age of 16, she worked on Capitol Hill, providing accounting and business management for small businesses, and has held a variety of administrative, marketing, and sales positions in her varied career.She now works for HDU on the Policy and Advocacy Committee.

Candria Denzmore

Candria started dialysis when she was 32 when her kids were young. She has received treatment for 13 years, with her current option being peritoneal dialysis. She lives in St. Louis Area with her husband, Nathan, and has three adult sons, Brandon, Keithen, and Aareon. With more than 10 years of retail management experience, she now operates a small home-based baking business which keeps her busy along with her new grandbaby.

Aaron Lee Battle

Aaron Lee Battle, Wellness Ambassador for the Rogosin Institute in New York City.  In 2008, received a kidney transplant. He has worked with the Renal Support Network as a speaker and educator and in the past as the Patient Services Director for IPRO ESRD Network of New York. Aaron is helping patients to get their “Wings Back!” Aaron is an actor and singer.

Rafeal Villicana, MD is the Medical Director, Transplant Nephrology at Loma Linda University Health. He is a Transplant Nephrologist who earned his medical degree from Michigan State University. He completed his internal medicine residency at Mayo Clinic Rochester. He subsequently completed Nephrology and Transplant Nephrology fellowships from UCSF. He then spent nearly a decade on staff at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.  His interests include kidney and pancreas transplantation, living kidney donation and ABO /HLA incompatible kidney transplantation. He is fluent in Spanish. He is an associate professor of Medicine at Loma Linda University.

Read an article by Dr. Villicana: Kidney Donor Options

Trudy McKanna is the Director of Medical Education for Organ Health at Natera. Trudy is an ABGC-certified genetic counselor with over 15 years of clinical experience in prenatal, pediatric, and adult genetics, and 7 years of laboratory and medical education experience. A graduate of the University of Michigan genetic counseling program, she is also a past president of the Michigan Association of Genetic Counselors and a former instructor at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Monica Johnson is a medical science liaison manager for Organ Health at Natera. She has over 25 years of experience in organ donation and transplantation She is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing from Linfield University and a master of science from Antioch University – Seattle.

Ann Serrano Lopez is an American writer, movie producer, and actress. She was featured in movies and television shows such as “The wonderful World of Disney” and “Arrested Development.” A Living Kidney Donor, she was formerly married to comedian/actor George Lopez to whom she donated a kidney in 2005, after his own kidneys deteriorated due to a genetic condition.

Trent Sullivan

Trent Sullivan has had both a kidney and a heart transplant. He attended the RSN Renal Teen Prom for many years and was a Co-Emcee at the 21st annual prom. Trent lives in Scottsdale, AZ, where he is a Toy Collector/Ambassador and Spokesperson at Grants Wishes, an organization.

Valen Keefer

Valen Keefer has lived for over 16 years with two kidney transplants. She alsohada liver transplant over a year ago. Her triumphs and challenges of growing up with kidney disease has taught her what is important in life;it led her on a path of educating and giving hope to others in the kidney and organ donation communities. Valen lives in Auburn, CA, where she is an avid public speaker, author, and blogger.

Listen to a KidneyTalk podcast featuring Valen Keefer: Valen Keefer: A Double-Transplant Survivor’s Story

George Franklin

George Franklin III went through several treatments with no success, including peritoneal dialysis at home, hemo-dialysis for 6 hours, three days a week for 3 years, and six major surgeries. In April of 1975, George had his first kidney transplant, which was unsuccessful. Another call came in November of 1975 for him to have the transplant surgery once again. By his own admission, he was reluctant to subject himself to the procedure a second time, but his surgeon was very adamant about that one being “George’s kidney.” George was given the gift of life and has been going strong since then.   George started a social club called the Quarter Century Club that celebrates organ transplant longevity.

Listen to George’s KidneyTalk Podcasts:
45 Years and Counting: George Franklin’s Transplanted Kidney Remains Strong
Transplant Quarter Century Club: The Club Recipients Want to Join!

Sasha Couch

Sasha Couch is an East Coast native living in Los Angeles for over 20 years. She has a BA in International Relations and works as a technical writer. Sasha received a kidney and pancreas transplant in 2017. She delights most in her volunteer endeavors, notably working with organizations like the Culver-Palms Burrito Project to help the homeless.

Listen to Sasha’s transplant story: My Kidney & Pancreas Transplant Journey

Henriette Ivanans

Ms. Ivanans won the Allegra Johnson Award in Memoir Writing for “In Pillness and in Health: A Memoir” (UCLA Writers’ Extension) (2015). Her published work includes: “Alcohol May Intensify Effect” (Barrelhouse) (2019), “The Road to Self-Publishing” (OC Register) (2021), “Dear Corona Virus” (Politiken) (2020), and “My Soul Mate is a Kidney-Transplanted Woman Half My Age” (2019). She is currently working on her next book “How 5 Hounds Healed a Hen,” about the unconditional love of dogs.

Ms. Ivanans is a two-time kidney-transplanted, sober woman and relieved ex-actress. She lives with her husband, Kevin and senior basset hound, Wahlter White McIntyre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, home of the Dainty.

Listen to a KidneyTalk podcast featuring Henriette Ivanans: An Open and Honest discussion about Addiction

Jean D. Moody-Williams, RN, MPP, is Deputy Director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality. She is a member of a leadership team responsible for a CMS center that has more than 400 employees and a $3-billion annual budget. She helps lead policy activities for Quality Improvement Programs, End Stage Renal Disease Networks, Survey and Certification, Quality Measurement and Health Assessment, Clinical Standards, Coverage and Analysis, Quality Innovations Models and many of the agency’s Value Based Purchasing and public reporting programs for hospitals, physicians, and ambulatory settings.

Stanley C. Jordan, MD is the medical director of Cedars-Sinai’s Kidney Transplant Program, director of Pediatric Nephrology and Transplant Immunology, and professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has directed research leading to major advances in diagnostic and treatment approaches in the care of patients receiving transplanted organs. He developed a process that uses intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) to reduce the risk of rejection in difficult cases in which other medications have failed. He also created a technique to detect post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) in its earliest stages when intervention is most effective.

Listen to a KidneyTalk podcast featuring Stanley C. Jordan, MD: Breakthroughs in Antibody Desensitization Therapy

Donna Bednarski, MSN, RN, ANP-BC, CNN, CNP  is a nurse practitioner at the Harper University Dialysis Access Center in Detroit, MI and has been working in nephrology for 38 years specializing in all stages of chronic kidey disease, acute kidney injury, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and kidney transplant.  She is a Past President of the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) and is currently ANNA’s representative to Kidney Care Partners and ANNA’s Health Policy Committee Chair.

Mark Meier, MSW, LICSW, is a Social Worker and co-founder of the Face It Foundation which is a Minneapolis-based organization providing peer support for men who deal with depression. In addition to his role at Face It, Mark is on staff in the Department of Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota’s School of Medicine. Mark previously worked as a dialysis social worker. He is a trained patient care technician and a facility administrator.

Read an article by Mark Meier: Depression is Complicated, Really Complicated!

Shari Gilford

Shari Gilford is a 3-time transplant recipient and has had experience with several dialysis modalities during her ten years on dialysis. Shari enjoys traveling the world and has been to several Asian countries. She recently completed training as a nutrition coach and started her own business called Full Table Nutrition.

Read an article by Shari Gilford: Traveling the World with My New Kidney

Chef O (Oliver Hale)

Chef Oliver Hale (Chef O) is a two-time Kidney Transplant Recipient and a World Renowned, national & local award-winning healthy lifestyle chef. He is an organ donation advocate and UNOS ambassador. He also serves on the board of the western Michigan chapter of Meals on Wheels.

Listen to a KidneyTalk podcast reaturing Chef O: Ho, ho, ho…It’s Chef O

Elaine S. Kamil, MD, specializes in nephrology in Los Angeles, CA, and has over 47 years of experience in the field of medicine. She is involved in clinical research and teaching in pediatric nephrology and nephrotic syndrome and patient advocacy. She serves on the faculty of David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA teaching medical students and residents. She is the Cedars-Sinai principal investigator in the Nephcure Accelerating Cures Institute with clinical research in nephrotic syndrome.

Mihi Wickramasinghe

Mihi Wickramasinghe was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2010, the year she moved to the US. She started dialysis in 2011 and continued for 22 months. She received her first transplant in 2014 which shunted in 2016. Mihi has been on peritoneal dialysis for 4 years now and is currently looking for an organ donor and trying to get on the transplant waitlist.

Taylor Scofield

Taylor Scofield was diagnosed with kidney disease in utero and went on dialysis at birth in 2001. He received his first transplant in 2001, kidney was from mom which lasted until 2014 and was on peritoneal dialysis for 2 years. In 2016 received second transplant, kidney was from dad and is still going strong today.

Hannah Hall

Hannah Hall was diagnosed with kidney disease as an infant and received a kidney transplant donated by her father.

Meghna Verma

Meghna Verma is an organ transplant recipient of 8 years, spending 2 years prior on dialysis. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology and is currently seeking higher educational goals focused on supporting patients in a post-transplant care environment.

Karol Franks

Karol Franks, a married mother of four, is an advocate for those with kidney disease and living donors. Her daughter, Jenna, received her second kidney transplant from a living donor swap in July 2017. Karol is an administrator for Living Donors Online. She also is an administrator for the “I Hate Dialysis” Facebook group, and for many years has volunteered for RSN’s Renal Teen Prom, as well as for other outreach events.

Read an article by Karol Franks: How to Find a Kidney Donor

Richard N. Fine, MD

Richard N. Fine, MD, is a pediatric nephrologist who serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Stony Brook University Hospital, NY.

He initiated the dialysis and transplant program at Children’s Hospital in LA and rose to the rank of professor at USC School of Medicine. He moved to UCLA to establish the division of pediatric nephrology and revitalize the pediatric End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) program prior to relocating to Stony Brook.

His interests have focused on optimizing clinical care of children afflicted with ESRD.

Anuradha Gajjar, M.D., is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Nephrology at Weill Cornell Medicine, and an Assistant Attending Pediatrician at NewYork-Presbyterian Phyllis and David Komansky Children’s Hospital. She cares for children with a range of kidney disease, including hypertension, glomerulonephritis, acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, end-stage renal disease, dialysis, and for children needing pre- and post-transplant care.

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