The Patient Ambassador Program is an annual program where CKF volunteers and transplant recipients travel around the country sharing their motivating stories about how they’re thriving in their lives post-transplant. While we’re sorry we cannot meet with everyone in person, we are thrilled to be able to provide this same great programming via a safer and more inclusive platform.
Each webinar will feature different Ambassadors and transplant professionals who will tell their stories and answer questions posed by you, our webinar viewers in real time! If you’re unable to catch the webinar live, don’t worry! 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. 18 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 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.
Margret Bock is a pediatric nephrologist specializing in transplant and is the Kidney Transplant Medical Director at Children’s Hospital Colorado and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Colorado School of Medicine. She found herself in this career path because of her love for science, what the kidneys do, and taking care of children from the very beginning and supporting them through the whole process of combatting issues and then sending them off into the adult world, hopefully in a much better place than when she met them.
Melissa McQueen is a transplant mother, caregiver and Executive Director of Transplant Families, an organization which works with parents and caregivers of children who are listed for or have already received a lifesaving organ transplant and helps guide them to support, education and assistance.
She started the framework for what would become Transplant Families after her son, Dylan, was born with dilated cardiomyopathy and subsequently required a heart transplant at eight months old. After many years of therapy and successful early interventions, Dylan is a healthy, happy 12-year-old boy.
Transplant Families is now partners with many organizations all over the United States to bring awareness to pediatric transplantation.
In addition, Melissa serves on OPTN/UNOS’ volunteer Pediatric Committee and Data Advisory Committee, where she helped co-author “What Every Parent Needs to Know”. She also serves in leadership roles for Quality Improvement Collaboratives ACTION Learning Network, a pediatric, cardiac Quality Improvement team based out of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and Starzl Learning Network, a pediatric liver Quality Improvement team based out of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Melissa worked on Donate Life America’s spearheading committee to help establish National Pediatric Transplant Week during the last week of April each year. She is also the charter chair of the Heart Center Family Advisory Council and the Alumni Family Advisory Council at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
Jeanne Shields lives in New York with her daughter, Lauren, who is both a heart and kidney transplant recipient. Lauren is also the namesake of “Lauren’s Law”, a statewide law that requires the question of organ donor registration to be mandatory to answer when obtaining a driver’s license in New York, which Lauren was instrumental in passing. During her daughter’s medical journey, Jeanne was first a caregiver, then a patient when she became her daughter’s living donor on July 21, 2020.
Throughout all of this time, Jeanne continued to stay connected to issues relevant to transplant patients and families as a hospital volunteer and through organ donation advocacy work she has done with her daughter. Jeanne is involved in a number of nonprofit organizations and frequently volunteers with LiveOnNY, Donate Life New York State, the American Heart Association and the New York Blood Center.
She served on the Family Advisory Council at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and has worked extensively with the Helen Hayes Hospital Foundation. Professionally, Jeanne has worked in real estate for over 20 years. She is also a trustee with the Hudson Gateway Realtor Foundation and serves on the board for both the Rockland Council for the Arts and Hearts for Russ. In addition to Lauren, Jeanne has a son, Brandon, who is a First Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and is currently studying to become a pilot.
Mazzy Noriega is a 19-year-old liver transplant recipient from San Diego, California. Mazzy received her new liver in 2003, as a result of autoimmune hepatitis, although she wasn’t diagnosed until after her transplant. Her transplant has allowed her to do so many things she otherwise would not have been able to do throughout her life.
Today, Mazzy actively promotes awareness for organ donation and chronic illness on her Instagram page, @chronicallymaz. Through social media, she has been able to connect with tons of people all over the world to share her transplant story and shed more light on what it’s like living with a chronic illness as a teenager. She is currently taking online classes at San Diego City College and Mesa College and is working toward becoming a child life specialist.