April Is Donate Life

Have you signed up to be a donor?

The month of April is a “Donate Life Month”.  Have you signed up yet? If you have not registered to be a donor you don’t have to wait until you get your driver license renewed, you can register by going to kidney.org/transplantatio… and see how you can register to be a donor today.

Registering is not enough

I always had thought because my driver license had the little heart on it to indicate I was a donor it was a done deal……my organs would be donated if I died and that is far from the truth. I have become a lot more educated on organ donation with the help of the Alabama Organ Center. Don’t get me wrong it is so important for us to register to be an organ donor, but if we don’t take the time to set down with our family and explain our wishes the chances of our organs being donated drops off dramatically. Your next of kin will make the decision whether or not your organs will be donated at the time you pass, not you.

It’s a very sensitive issue.

When a family member is setting beside a love one as their life is drawing to an end the last thing that is on their mind sometimes is saving someone else life. I  hope that does not sound harsh, but sometimes they are consumed with the  fact of having to let someone go. Most of the situations where organs can be donated the donor has suffered a head injury, which means it has been an unexpected and sudden tragedy. So lets take a minute and put yourself in the family’s situation. You are hurting emotionally , in some cases you are losing the very thing that means the most to you in life,. In your mind you are still hoping and praying for a miracle and when someone mentions to you about taking the organs from  your loved one you might become offend and think they don’t care about your family. Please understand that is not the case if this has happened  to you or if it does sometime in the future. The hospital is required to ask these difficult questions and it is hard on the person asking the question also…..but it must be done. Please understand they know what a difficult time you are going through and would never intentionally do anything to offend you or your family.

You can remove the burden from your family

Please understand that your family is emotionally torn and is having a difficult time with the fact of the actual death and does not need any added stress. I have told my family my wishes and we have discussed it in detail. That is one decision they will not have to make. They can leave the hospital knowing they made the right choice and have a peace that through the decision other will continue to live.

Where will your organ got when you pass away? Turn to dust or save a life?

Pressing on,





To Many Barriers

Who is most likely to donate?

I found an article on the National Kidney Foundation website that shared some interesting news when it comes living organ donation.  The article stated financial and educational barriers seem to play a major role and make it more difficult for the poor and minorities to give or receive an organ. Advances in immune-suppression have made it safer to receive an organ from someone who isn’t biologically related. Less-invasive surgery techniques also make it easier to donate. But while medical costs for a living donor are typically covered by health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid additional expenses – such as travel, lodging and time off from work – are not.

They are normally emotionally attached.

To see who was most likely to donate, researchers looked at information about  adult kidney transplants in the United States that occurred with a living donor. They gathered information on education, race, insurance type, zip code and whether people were related. They found that kidney donations from non-relatives have become more common, rising from seven percent of living donations in 1997 to 26 percent in 2006. The vast majority of unrelated donors have an emotional relationship with the patient, such as friends, in-laws co-workers, church members . In Jennifer’s case her donors  were her mom, a friend from church and her pastor. In a few cases, though, organs came from volunteers with no relationships.

Financial restraints have huge impact.

But they found that both unrelated donors and recipients were generally older, likely to live in slightly higher-income neighborhoods than related donors and recipients, and more likely to have a college degree. Patients with higher socioeconomic status are probably more likely to have access to potential donors who have similar means and resources. “It’s not because (people in lower socioeconomic status groups) care about their loved ones any less, but because they can’t pay for the flight, the hotel or take the risk of losing their job. Kidney donors typically have to take six weeks off work after the transplant. In addition, informational barriers may explain why recipients of organs from unrelated donors are more likely to have had more education.

Awareness is vital

That is why it is so important to educate & promote organ donation at an early age . Too many people don’t know the facts and not enough volunteers to assist people willing to be a living donor. Jennifer and I hope one day be able to assist with the financial needs of anyone who is willing to make the sacrifice to becoming a living donor through the non-profit.

Pressing on ,


Crossing Bridges

He shook my heart

The past six months have been quite the journey. I can’t explain the life changing experience that consumed my life. When my mom began to get sick again I couldn’t understand why. I mean, I knew she had recurring kidney problems but the idea that God was allowing her to go through pain and sickness was confusing.  Little did I know God had an unimaginable plan ready to shake the heart and mind of a teenage girl.

He has plans for me

A few days before Christmas my dad got a phone call from our pastor saying he wanted to come over and share something with my mom and dad. That evening my pastor shared with my family that his kidney was a match for my mom. When I heard the news a wave of emotions overwhelmed me. Through my moms illness God drew me closer to Him. I realized that I had made God earth-bound, I let myself forget that nothing in the universe holds Him down.  He proved Himself once again invincible, all-powerful, and uncontainable. He holds my life in the palm of His hand and He knows the paths I will take and the bridges I will cross. “For I know the plans I have for you,’declares the Lord,’ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.

My senior project

As my mom went through her transplant process, I came to know of a boy named Dylan. Dylan is in the 7th grade at my high school. I had heard through the grape-vine that he was struggling with renal failure like my mom and has recently had a kidney transplant too. Around the same time my dad and I had been brain storming about a project for my senior class. Little did I know once again God was going to blow my mind. This past fall I was elected as my class president, not knowing this would give me and advantage in making an impact in the lives of someone I didn’t even know. Back to the senior project so my dad and I got in touch with people from the Alabama Organ Center who linked us with Camp Bridges. Camp Bridges is a camp for kids and teens that have been sick most of  their whole life and have received an organ transplant. The camp provides a place for kids to experience things they may have missed out on and to teach them how to take care of themselves. Camp Bridges was the answer! Through a series of meetings and a ton of planning my senior class will be putting on a week of fundraising from April 30th  to May 4th to send a child and family to camp bridges this summer. Now how do we raise awareness of kidney disease…Dylan. The fundraiser of the class of 2012 from Jacksonville High School is going to be in the honor of Dylan.

Sitting back and thinking how God has used my moms kidney failure to change my life and give me a chance to impact those around me is mind-boggling. God can change a heart in the blink of an eye.  My faith and relationship with my Lord was strengthened, refreshed, and renewed thanks to His mighty plan involving a beautiful and loving mother. “Jesus Christ is the first and last, author and finisher, beginning and end, alpha and omega, and by Him all other things hold together. He must be the first or nothing. God never comes next!” – Vance Havner




Hi, my name is Uma Vullaganti and I have been a renal socialworker since September 1997. I fell into this field because I needed a local placement for my internship. I had no idea what dialysis was, prior to this placement. And now I can say it is my true calling. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I have 2 bachelors degrees, Psychology and Socialwork, and a masters in Socialwork from University of Alabama. A renal socialworker’s job is very unique in that we deal with chronic situation. Our patients do not come and go. They are with us for the rest of their lives, dialyzing in our clinics 3 days a week, until transplanted. This creates a unique situation for a certain level of bonding. This is true for all disciplines. It is going to be difficult to pinpoint a renal socialworker’s job description, because we are seen as “problem solvers” “travel agents” “insurance agents” “listeners” and a “catch all”. One of things I focus on is the “New patient”. So for this blog, here is a peek into their world…The New Patient

Advocating for the New Patient

When we have a new patient start with us, one of the first things we tell them is that they are not alone, that their care will be followed by a “team”. This considerably reduces their anxiety when they know that they will be cared for by the MD(doctor) CRNP(nurse practitioner), RN ( registered nurse), Tech (patient care technician), RD (registered dietitian and SW ( social worker).

For the new patients, the first 90 days and sometimes beyond, of initiating dialysis can be a period of intense anxiety and vulnerability. Many of our patients have minimal knowledge of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and are confused about the treatment regimen and expectations. Time is spent to build trust and gain their confidence. We are sensitive to the new patient’s needs, communicating with them as we focus on reassuring their fears.  We do this by tending to their needs, however simple. Many face a dramatic change in their lifestyle as they prepare themselves for the dialysis routine. There are several issues they may have to face, such as the possibility of leaving their jobs, thereby losing their livelihood, applying for retirement benefits or disability benefits, dealing with insurance coverage, prescription coverage, trying to meet expenses of daily living with limited income, reduced ability to care for self, unable to perform activities of daily living, etc. The renal social worker addresses all of those.

It is not an easy transition from life before dialysis to life after dialysis. More later…..


I need a nap

I feel like I have been running a marathon this week! I am only working two days a week, so I have no idea how I ever worked full-time. Chloe had a golf match on Monday, Tuesday, practice today , a lesson today, another match tomorrow and then a tournament on a Friday and Saturday. If you didn’t know……it takes a long time for junior high girls to play nine holes of golf, and there are these little gnats flying all around your head. They are awful!! I think they liked my perfume, so I will not be wearing any ever again to the golf course. Well enough of my complaining! But I could really use a nap, LOL!

Cant wait until Sunday

I’m really looking forward to this weekend because it’s Easter. I talked some about it Monday, but it is truly my favorite time of year. There is something different about how people are during worship on Easter Sunday, it’s just the sweetest spirit in the church. C.S. Lewis once said “All our offerings, whether music or martyrdom, are like the intrinsically, worthless present of a child, which a father values indeed,but only for the intention.”  God wants our worship to be from the heart. We will never be perfect for worship, but God sees the heart and wants our worship to be genuine. There is no hiding or faking with Him, he knows what is true.

Spring Cleaning

Its time for spring cleaning. As I think about what all I have to do around the house this spring I feel like I need another nap just thinking about it, ha ha! Well maybe not another nap but it defiantly is not something I’m looking forward to. Do you have any tips on spring cleaning? I’m  up for any ideas that can make the process simpler, so I’m counting on you to help me out this year.

I read an interesting tweet today that said “Spring cleaning what unhealthy practice are you working on cleaning up”.  This tweet reminded me of my goal to exercise more. I have been wanting to start walking and work my way up to run a 5k. For me the unhealthy practice I need to clean up is not exercising. What a great time of the year to shake those unhealthy habits and become more healthy.

live from the crazy farm,


By His Wounds

We are healed by His wounds

Yet He Himself bore our sickness, and He carried our pains, but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” Isaiah 53:4-5

There is no room for argument when you read this scripture about Christ and what he has done for us, and what was laid on Him as punishment for our sin. The Easter season always seems to be a time that everyone thinks on what Christ has done for us, but it tends to be forgotten once Easter Sunday has passed once again. For me, I have tried each day this week  to reflect on the days  leading up to  Resurrection Morning for our Lord.

They turned their backs on Him

I think about what it must have felt like when Jesus came into Jerusalem and was worshiped and praised only to be rejected by the same people less than a week later. I think about how silly it is that I get my feelings hurt sometimes over the most ridiculous things. I’ve never had all my friends turn on me at one time or call for my death. I also think about He only asked the disciples to pray and  they fell asleep, and how when I ask my friends to pray they do, and  encourage me on in the faith. I also can’t imagine what He felt being rejected by His father to the point that God had to turn His back on Jesus to not look on our sin that was placed on Him. As Christ prayed in the garden and asked God to let the cup pass him, and God still allowing Christ to take on our ugliness.

This Easter has taken on a new passion for me “by His wounds we are healed” has new meaning for me. I think about each time Jesus was hit with the whip that sealed my healing, and that it became possible for me to live and not pay for the sin that should be mine to bear. This year I have been so blessed that I am not on dialysis and that I can spend a blessed Easter with my family.

Who’s your champion 

Charles Spurgeon once said “He stands fast as your rock, steadfast as your safeguard, sleepless as your watcher, valiant as your champion.” I pray He is your champion this Easter I know He is mine and this Easter season is the perfect time for Him to become yours!

Take Them A Meal

Last week Jason mentioned in a post the opportunity to assist a family of a teenage boy (Dylan) who had a kidney transplant a few weeks ago. You can visit the Take Them a Meal website or by giving gift cards for GROCERIES and GAS. They travel weekly, as much as 2-3 times a week to Children’s in Birmingham, so they could definitely use our help. Bring gift cards by the church office at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville or you can give them to Jason and I at Eaglepoint Church and we will get these to the family.  For more information you can contact us at 2givelife@gmail.com
Website address: www.TakeThemAMeal.com
Recipient Last Name: Hinesley Password: 1234



live from the crazy,


A Dietitian’s World

Well this is not Jennifer or Jason blogging today.  This is Jennifer’s sister, Stephanie Gossett writing for the blog today.  I am a renal dietitian and have worked in dialysis for the past 12 years.  I received my undergraduate degree in Dietetics from Jacksonville State University and my Masters in Human Nutrition from the University of Alabama.  While completing my graduate program, Jennifer had to begin dialysis for a second time.  After graduating, I felt a strong pull to work in dialysis to help these patients. There are many aspects to dialysis that the general population has no comprehension of.  Besides the doctor, there are nurse practitioners, nurses, patient technicians, water treatment technicians, social workers, and dietitians who work together to make life “as normal as possible” for the patients. Most people ask me, “Why in the world does a dialysis patient need a dietitian?”  Well, I am about to tell you.

Each month, I review the lab work for the 120 patients in my clinics. When the kidneys stop working, labs “get out of whack”, not a medical term but easily understood.  There are several lab values that are tied to what the patient does or does not eat.  The Dietary Labs that have the most impact on dialysis patients are: Albumin or protein, Phosphorus, and Potassium.  During this blog session, I will concentrate on ALBUMIN.

Albumin is a major protein made in the liver and found in the blood. It’s function is to help with 1)growth and maintenance of body tissue, 2)prevention of anemia, 3)prevention of  loss of muscle mass, 4)helping to  fight off infection, 5)helps with healing of wounds, 6)providing a source of energy, 7)helping keep body fluids in balance.  When a dialysis patient does not eat enough calories or protein, the liver does not have enough protein to make new albumin which causes lower albumin levels in the blood.  Research has shown that patients with a low albumin levels over time have a higher risk of death.

The best source of food to for the liver to use to make albumin is PROTEIN.  Protein from animals is the best source of protein.  If a patient does not eat enough protein, the body will start destroying muscles to get protein it needs. Therefore, the patient is even weaker than the dialysis treatments make them.  Although eating enough “meat” seems to be an EASY for most of us, it is difficult for dialysis patients.  Their sense of taste is altered due to toxins in the body, they are tired from treatments, they may not be able to afford meat, or they have gastrointestinal problems in addition to kidney failure.

It is a challenge for both the patient and dietitian to find ways to increase protein intake to help improve the patient’s overall nutritional status and health.  I try to encourage my patients to eat 8-10 oz of meat per day (3 ounces is about the size of a woman’s palm).  Most of the time, this would require eating meat at all 3 meals.  I also usually do not restrict any type of meat they want to eat.  They may choose a higher sodium meat such as a hotdog or process sandwich meat.  Although this may not be the optimal choice, it may be all they can afford.   In addition to meat consumption to help the “albumin level”, there are nutritional protein supplements available.  Boost, Ensure, Nepro-for dialysis patients are liquid supplements patients can purchase but these are usually expensive ($45.00 for case of 24).  The most economical choice of protein supplement is whey protein powder.  A container will last approximately 3 months and is about $14.  One scoop of this powder has the amount of protein as 3 oz of meat.  It can be sprinkled on food or mixed with juice or other foods, and can be found in the supplement sections of drugstores or large chain retailers.  My patients have found it is an easy way to add protein to their daily protein intake if they don’t feel like eating meat at each meal.

I could go on and on about the need for dialysis patients to eat plenty of meat. Many times, I have been called the “Albumin Queen”, because that is all I talk about to the patients.  They see me coming and say, “I know, Eat More Meat”.  There have also been several occasions when they tell me, “You know, I ate more protein like you said, and you know what? I feel better!”  Those are the days and times that I know what I am doing matters, and this is the job God has called me to do.

So, until my next guest blogging (where I will talk about Potassium), when you meet a dialysis patient, ask them, “Did you eat enough meat today?” I bet they will know why you are asking!