Letter from a Dialysis Social Worker

“I have nothing but the highest praise for the One-on-One Program from my patients and staff. We see the difference that this education is making in our patients. When I tell you that this program has saved a man’s life, I am speaking literally and I am grateful. I tried for months to help this man to think of something to hope for. That something was this program! Thank you once again for providing such a wonderful service to the dialysis population. With this knowledge, you are giving hope to all of the dialysis patients you touch. I hope this program is around for years to come.”

RonaldTaubman_sRon Taubman, Peer Educator, Chief Financial Officer, UKRO
“There wasn’t a program like this years ago when I underwent my kidney/pancreas transplant. The only information I received was a one-day orientation at the hospital where I was transplanted. Being able to help prepare and educate people who are about to undergo a life-changing procedure is very rewarding. Many transplant patients are given most of their critical care information in regards to their medicine and post-transplant care in the days following their surgery. This is not beneficial to them since they are dealing with their recovery and are not fully coherent in regards to what is being explained to them. I’m most grateful for the One-On-One Program and the opportunity I have as a Peer Educator.”

Ron discontinued a successful business career in July 2001 due to his kidney failing in December 2000, which necessitated him beginning dialysis. On July 3, 2001, Ron received a kidney and pancreas transplant at UCLA, however on March 15, 2009, Ron’s transplanted kidney failed and he returned to dialysis. On March 2, 2010, he received an extended criteria kidney from a deceased 75-year-old donor at the University of Arizona, Tucson Medical Center.

Ron now dedicates his time to philanthropic activities and promoting organ donor awareness and working with organizations that are attempting to find a cure for kidney disease throughout the United States. He has been a member of Transplant Recipients International Organization Ventura County West Valley Chapter since 2002. He was elected as a member of the Board of Directors in January 2003, and then elected Chapter President in January 2004, and held this office for four years. He was elected to the International Board of Directors of TRIO, Inc. as a Member-at-Large in January 2005, and in January 2006, Ron was elected Vice President, Member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Development (Fundraising Committee) of TRIO, Inc. His responsibilities encompassed all TRIO Chapters in the United States, Italy, Japan, and Australia. 

ClaudiaSanchez2Claudia Sanchez, Peer Educator
“I saw a need for Spanish-speaking patients to get more informed about dialysis and caring for themselves because many had no support and were unable to communicate to their healthcare team.”

Claudia is the recipient of a combined kidney/pancreas transplant. Before becoming a Peer Educator, Claudia was actively involved in speaking to dialysis patients on her own about the benefits of receiving a transplant. With the assistance of some dedicated social workers, she started a support group for dialysis patients in the San Fernando Valley.

Claudia had a passion for staying active but due to her diabetes and kidney failure, she could not exercise as much as she wished to. After her transplant, she had the energy and physical stamina that she lacked before.

On March 1, 2008, Claudia finished the Los Angeles Marathon in five hours and 48 minutes, proudly wearing a “Donate Life” race bib to promote organ donation. This was her first full marathon and she has since completed three half-marathons and begun training for a triathlon.

As a Peer Educator, Claudia stresses to dialysis patients the importance of being proactive in their healthcare and maintaining their health through diet and exercise. Patients respond well to her because they know that she has experienced dialysis, been through the transplant process, and is now healthy and very physically active. Claudia also volunteers as an Ambassador to OneLegacy. 

Sergio Gomez, Peer Educator
“It’s all about having the emotional strength to actively pursue a second chance at living a better life. The dialysis patients and I work together as a team to make the educational process as easy and informative as possible.”

Sergio Gomez was lucky enough to receive his new kidney from his sister. Also an ambassador to OneLegacy, Sergio serves as a role model to those patients looking for treatment options when kidney disease or failure is diagnosed.

Vivien Gonzales, Peer Educator
“Being a part of this program and being able to talk to others about my experience has made me feel good about myself. I believe that I have helped out many people who didn’t even know about the option of transplantation.”

Vivien Gonzales was transplanted after 18 months of dialysis, with a kidney from a 10-year-old boy who died drowning trying to save his sister in a backyard pool.

Brenda Way, Peer Educator
“Having an opportunity to give back to the community is a wonderful experience. I am grateful to have the knowledge and experience of having already gone through my kidney and pancreas transplant, in order to help those who are contemplating transplantation.”

Having overcome many obstacles in her life, including blindness, Brenda was transplanted after one year of being on dialysis. She has been a great source of inspiration to those who have had the opportunity to participate in the program with her.