First Month On the Job!
by National Kidney Registry COO Michael Lollo
When I donated my kidney in December of 2018, I could never have imagined the journey that led me to this position. After my 21-year career with the NYPD, I assumed that I would continue on as the Director of Security for the Baldwin School District. Then out of the blue this past June, I got a call from my “Kidney Guy,” Ned Brooks. Ned was one of the first donors I spoke to prior to my donation. He was kind, informative, candid, and very giving of his time. It was that unexpected phone call from Ned that started me on this new adventure as President of the National Kidney Donation Organization.
My first official month has come to a close. When I started, I had no idea what it was that the NKDO wanted me to do. I was afraid I would be sitting in front of my laptop or desk computer refreshing every few minutes to see if someone was going to email me to do something. I could not have been more wrong. The job actually started in July when NKDO made the announcement that I was coming on board in August. I started seeing a flurry of emails and Zoom call invites. Ned Brooks (CEO/Founder) and Lisa Emmott (Executive Director) looped me in to all that was going on. Believe me, there is a lot going on. So when my first official day came on Monday, August 2, 2021, there was no lack of projects to dive into.
My first project was Donor Connect, our mentoring program. We provide an opportunity for every person who registers as a potential donor via the National Kidney Registry website the chance to speak with a Mentor (someone who already donated). This is so exciting and groundbreaking. There is no other program of this magnitude anywhere else. As of this writing, we have 17 Living Kidney Donor Mentors who are all also certified as Independent Living Donor Advocates. To date, these amazing Mentors have contacted over 800 potential donors and spoken directly with just about 300 of them. We know that this program will absolutely change the conversion rate of non-directed donors, which translates into more lives changed.
Also this month we are in final talks with a major transplant center to adopt and implement the Donor Connect program. This is a testament to the credibility NKDO has within the transplant community. Once this center is fully operational, we hope to onboard several others and assist in improving the living donation rates at their centers. Helping create a positive donor experience from the very beginning at a transplant center translates into more lives changed.
On my first day on the job, I sent out a video asking for people who were either donors, recipients, people in need of a transplant, or any interested party to join NKDO as a member. In just one month we have 530 people registered as members of NKDO. That’s AMAZING. Thank you to all those who signed up. My goal is to reach 1,000 and continue to build. We are more than halfway there. If you have not registered, please visit https://www.nkdo.org/nkdo-membership to join the largest living donor advocacy group in the country.
We are working with a producer who does documentary films to create a production for PBS called “Abundant: CrowdSource for Life.” For the better part of the last two years, Don Griswold has been working on a documentary about non-directed living kidney donors. The intent of the production is to build the story around the filming of a live presentation in a TED-style format of 17 kidney donors, telling their stories and describing their experiences. American Public Television (APT) has agreed to provide a one-hour version of the production to the 87 independent PBS stations. Concurrent with the airing of the show in a given market, NKDO will support community events in conjunction with the local PBS stations in order to boost awareness and local involvement. The project has funding to support the community events in the New York and the Denver markets, plus several more. NKDO will be the sole vehicle through which people interested in learning more about being a Living Donor will be processed. We believe that the exposure of the PBS one-hour, and the two-hour documentary “Abundant: CrowdSource for Life,” along with the associated community events, will generate a minimum of 1,000 additional living donors, which translates into more lives changed.
If this was only the first month, then what are the rest going to look like? I hope to continue to help Ned, Lisa, and ALL of the members of NKDO who work so hard every day to make this the largest and greatest National Kidney Donation Organization in the country.
Someone asked me once how I want to be remembered. What would I want my legacy to be? This quote I found by Carrie Louise Hamilton sums it all up. “Our legacy is really the lives we touch, the inspiration we give, altering someone’s plan—if even for a moment—and getting them to think, rage, cry, laugh, argue…Walk around the block, dazed…More than anything, we are remembered for our smiles; the ones we share with our closest and dearest, and the ones we bestow on a total stranger, who needed it RIGHT THEN, and God put you there to deliver.”