We are thrilled to bring our groundbreaking Patient Ambassador Program to you in a safe, virtual format. The second edition of this series will focus on live tissue donation and will feature stories from patient ambassadors and medical professionals who have direct experience with this unique procedure. After hearing everyone’s stories, we encourage webinar attendees to ask questions and get to know more about how organ donation is saving lives.
The October webinar will take place on October 15 at 1 pm MDT. While this is a live hosted event, all webinars will be recorded and accessible on our website, so you can watch at any time.
Chris Klug is a three-time Olympic snowboarder and liver transplant recipient from Aspen, Colorado. In 1991, he was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare, degenerative liver disease, for which the only cure is a liver transplant. Eighteen months after receiving his lifesaving transplant, Chris won a bronze medal in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games for snowboard racing, making him the first and only organ transplant recipient to compete in the Olympics, winter or summer.
In 2003, Chris founded the Chris Klug Foundation (CKF), a national nonprofit organization based in Aspen, to help save lives through organ donor registration and to encourage healthy, active lifestyles post-transplant. He also wrote about his transplant experience and subsequent journey to the Olympics in his book, “To the Edge and Back: My Story from Organ Transplant Survivor to Olympic Snowboarder.” In addition to working full time in real estate, he now serves as chairman of CKF’s volunteer board and frequently travels with the foundation to share his story with others throughout the United States.
Dr. Sanjay Kulkarni is a multi-organ transplant surgeon, director of the Kidney Transplant Program and Medical Director of the Center for Living Organ Donors at Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital. The Kidney Transplant Program at Yale has been one of the largest programs in New England since 2008, in terms of living donor transplants, new patients listed, and total number of kidney transplants performed.
In addition, Dr. Kulkarni serves as the scientific director of the Yale Transplant Research Unit and as a principal investigator on numerous clinical research trials focused on improving living donation. Dr. Kulkarni is also a United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) primary living donor surgeon.
Sean Elliott was the first professional athlete to return to competition after an organ transplant, when he played for the San Antonio Spurs against the Atlanta Hawks on March 13, 2000. A native of Tucson, Arizona, Sean was drafted by the Spurs as the third overall draft pick in 1989, and he spent 11 of his 12 seasons playing for San Antonio.
During March of the 1998-99 season, Sean was told to prepare himself for a kidney transplant. He continued to play and kept his condition a secret. He contributed to the team throughout the playoffs as the Spurs defeated the New York Knicks in five games to win their first NBA championship. Shortly after the championship run, Sean underwent surgery and received a kidney from his older brother, Noel.
Sean announced his retirement in 2001 and became a basketball analyst for the Spurs local broadcast, a position he retains today.
In December 2000, Harold Mintz donated his kidney to a stranger and became one of the first non-designated living organ donors in the United States. Today, almost 20 years later, both donor and kidney recipient are alive and thriving. Following his donation experience, Harold has become an advocate for living organ donation, participating in speaking engagements and awareness efforts around the country.
Harold’s ultimate goal is to increase the number of people considering living donation and, in turn, decrease the number of people awaiting a second chance at life.
Jordan Sarbaugh is a transplant mother and caregiver to her almost 4-year-old son and liver transplant recipient, Hudson. After being diagnosed with biliary atresia just days after his birth, Hudson received a liver transplant at 9 months old via a living donor: his uncle Trevor Hill, United States Army Col. and Jordan’s brother-in-law.
Today, Jordan is an active advocate for living donation and serves as a leader in the Parent, Family & Engaged Partners group of SPLIT (Society of Pediatric Liver Transplantation) and a Parent Voice Advocate for the Starzl Network.