As I continue to gather materials for my kidney recipient community outreach effort, I want to learn more about the educational activities of the Northwest Kidney Centers. Today (May 12), I attended the NKC Breakfast of Hope, an annual fundraiser. It was held at the Westin Seattle. More than 800 people participated, raising over $375,000.

Jesse Jones, an Emmy Award winning reporter for King 5 television in Seattle, was the master of ceremonies. He related a story, which I was unaware of, that one day he noticed blood in his urine. He went to the doctor and the next morning his wife answered the phone. It was the doctor who said the tests indicated he had kidney cancer and wondering if he could come in that afternoon to prepare for surgery.

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Jesse Jones, master of ceremonies. Photo by Mike Nakamura

Joyce Jackson, the CEO of NKC made some remarks. One particular sentence really stuck in my mind, “There are 273 patients at Northwest Kidney Centers waiting for a kidney transplant. Our goal is to get that to zero.” By stating the problem in this way she makes the goal seem achievable. Almost everyone else who talks about reducing the wait list starts with the 85,000+ people on the national list. That big number makes it seem like an insurmountable goal, and that no single person could ever make an impact. (See a Jun 2010 blog post for more on how framing numbers affects us.)

The keynote speaker was John Piano, CEO of Transplant Connect. This LA-based company provides the software used by organ procurement organizations (OPOs) to facilitate the matching of donor organs with transplant recipients. The company was mentioned at the end of a Mar 2010 blog post.

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John Piano, keynote speaker. Photo by Mike Nakamura

At the breakfast, I was seated next to Cathy Pelzel, an executive assistant at SightLife. This organization, formerly known as Northwest Lions Eye Bank, recovers and places eye tissue for transplants. It turns out she is also a kidney donor, giving a kidney to her niece over 25 years ago. The graft is still functional, showing the real advantage of live donor kidneys.

Cathy pulled out her smartphone and launched the calendar app, highlighting the anniversary date of her donation. I hadn’t really thought about how I will feel about my donation date. Will I mark the occasion every year? Will my recipient? I wonder how other donors and recipients feel about their anniversary date.

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The breakfast meal itself featured a kidney-friendly menu. Surprisingly, it included items like sausage, crepes, and chocolates. But it excluded orange juice, sugary pastries, and highly salted eggs. Preparing a kidney-friendly diet means being careful, but doesn’t mean bland. (More on that in a June 2010 blog post.)

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A Breakfast of Hope guest discovers that a kidney-friendly menu need not be bland. Photo by Mike Nakamura

The NKC premiered a heartwarming video featuring the story of Dave LeFevre and Bill Hewlett. Dave is a Microsoft employee who donated a kidney to Bill, a fellow church member.

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Breakfast of Hope 2010. Video still from NKC

After the breakfast, I introduced myself to Dave and Bill. Dave said that if he was a speaker, he would have said that the people in the room could solve the waiting list just by signing up to be a live donor that day. (Well, except for the many people in the room who only have one kidney because they’ve already donated the other one.)

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