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Transplant Program

Virtual Kidney Transplant Symposium 2020: Navigating Through Transplant

Event Details

At this year's Virtual Kidney Transplant Symposium, attendees learned about the continuum of care for patients who require a kidney transplant with an emphasis on:

  • Optimizing clinical management
  • Patient education and support before and after kidney transplantation

The symposium included presentations by members of the Temple Kidney Transplant Program and personal accounts from living donors and recipients.

To watch these presentations, see the links in the section below.

Video Presentations

Transplant Options for Patients with Diabetes
Antonio Di Carlo, MD, CM, FACS, FRCSC

Kidney Transplantation: A Recipient Town Hall
Sunil Karhadkar, MD, FACS

Cardiovascular Disease and Metabolic Complications in Kidney Transplantation
Serban Constantinescu, MD, PhD

Reducing Disparities in Access to Kidney Transplantation
Avrum Gillespie, MD

Immunology & Transplantation
Iris Lee, MD

Protecting Gift of Life Guide to Immunosuppression Post Kidney Transplant
Ishani Shah, Pharm.D.

Temple's Transplant Process for Patients
Tiffiney Carter BSN, RN; Mary Beth Lawrence, BSN, RN; John Mulligan, RN, MSN

Infectious Diseases & Renal Transplantation
Aaron Mishkin, MD

Cognitive Impairment, What Difference Does it Make?
Christopher Combs, PhD

Substance Use and the Kidney Transplant Evaluation
William Brucker, MSW, LSW

Life After Transplant: Strategies for Success
Alex Kratchman, BSN, RN, CCTC; Karen Vizza, BSN, RN

Panel of Patients
Marsha Thompson, Rudy Vaughn, Rose Pfeiffer

Speaker Bios

William Brucker, MSW, LSW is a Transplant Social Worker who has been with Temple University Hospital for two and a half years. He works primarily with kidney patients but is also the backup worker for the heart and liver programs. His main responsibilities are to evaluate patients looking to get transplants and work with them to improve their candidacy, as well as to assist those who have gotten the surgery with any coping, medication, insurance, or financial issues. Prior to this, William worked two years at Robert Wood Johnson and St. Barnabas’ transplant programs with the kidney and heart patients.

Apart from working with patients, William has other responsibilities with the program. He helps manage the use of the Transplant Emergency Fund for patients who are struggling with emergency financial costs. He has also been heavily involved in transitioning the social work team onto a newer medical record system and creating more efficient ways of completing tasks. William has also volunteered to be a part of the yearly Kidney Transplant Symposium; this will be his second year doing so.


Tiffiney Carter has 11 years working as a nurse in transplant, dialysis, and sub-acute settings. She has extensive knowledge of caring for patients in end stage renal disease and treatment options.


Christopher Combs is a clinical psychologist who has been involved in organ transplantation at Temple University Hospital for the past 29 years. He initially was assigned to the heart transplant program, and he now works with the kidney and liver transplant programs. He also does pre-surgical psychological evaluations for kidney donors, bariatric surgery, and implantation of spinal cord stimulators.


Serban Constantinescu, MD, PhD is Professor of Medicine in the Section of Nephrology, Hypertension and Kidney Transplantation at Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. He earned his MD/ PhD from Carol Davila University in Romania. He completed Nephrology and Transplant fellowships at University of Pennsylvania. Since 2011 he has been the Medical Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Programs at Temple University Hospital.

His research focuses on pregnancy outcomes in solid organ recipients for female transplant recipients who have had post-transplant pregnancies and male transplant recipients who have fathered pregnancies. He is the co-investigator for the Transplant Pregnancy Registry International, an ongoing research study focused on the effects of pregnancy on transplant recipients and the effects of immunosuppressive medications on fertility and pregnancy outcomes.


Antonio Di Carlo, MD, CM, is a transplant surgeon at TUH and St. Christopher’s Hospital for surgeon. Dr. Di Carlo performs kidney, liver and pancreas transplants and living donor nephrectomies. Dr. Di Carlo also addresses other surgical needs in transplant patients and patients with end-stage organ disease. Dr. Di Carlo is the Chief of the Abdominal Organ Transplant Program.


Avrum Gillespie, MD is both a general and transplant nephrologist caring for people before and after their kidney transplant. His research focuses on identifying and overcoming barriers to kidney transplantation. His currently funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) study how people relationships inside and outside the hemodialysis clinic affect whether they receive a living donor transplant.

A graduate of the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, he has done all post-graduate training at Temple University Hospital and has been faculty at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University since 2009 and is currently and Associate Professor of Medicine.


Sunil Karhadkar, MD, FACS, is a transplant surgeon at TUH and St. Christopher’s Hospital. Dr. Karhadkar performs kidney, liver and pancreas transplants and living donor nephrectomies. Dr. Karhadkar also addresses other surgical needs in transplant patients and patients with end-stage organ disease including parathyroidectomy and vascular access surgery for dialysis. He also focuses on outcomes research in transplantation and was recently highlighted in Nephrology Times for his study, “Obesity and Outcomes of Simultaneous Kidney-Pancreas Transplantation.”


Alexander Kratchman has been a nurse for just over 7 years. He is passionate about patient education and advocacy. He started working at Temple on a travel-nursing contract and where he was first introduced to kidney transplant. For the past 2.5 years, he has worked as a post-transplant kidney and pancreas nurse coordinator, helping our transplant recipients keep their new organs and themselves healthy. He is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Health Informatics with the goal of improving population health management and access to care. He also regularly volunteers in the Philadelphia community through a variety of organizations, including the Share Food Program.


Mary Beth Lawrence has 17 years of experience in nursing. Her experience includes working as a nurse in abdominal transplant, ICUs, oncology, hospice and med-surge. She also has extensive experience in data collection and research.


Iris Lee, MD is an Associate Professor of Medicine, in the Division of Nephrology, Hypertension and Kidney Transplantation and have been at Temple Lewis Katz School of Medicine since 2007. Her love of transplant medicine was heavily influenced by her exposure to basic science research during her post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied the immune basis of graft rejection and tolerance. Her research experience in basic immunology was also established by interests in the immune basis of other inflammatory diseases such as Systemic Lupus Erythematous and chronic kidney disease (CKD).

As a clinician, she takes care of patients with kidney transplants, lupus kidney disease and solid organ transplant patients with CKD. Specializing in this area of nephrology continues to fulfill her scientific interests and is a rewarding privilege to participate in patients’ journey from end stage renal disease to kidney transplantation.


Elizabeth Lowry has spent the last nine years as a passionate educator and advocate for organ donation and transplantation. She currently works at Temple University Hospital conducting outreach to patients and physicians for the kidney and liver transplant programs. Prior to working at Temple, she spent seven years at the Gift of Life Donor Program as an educator in the field of organ donation to healthcare workers throughout the Philadelphia region.


Aaron Mishkin, MD is a board-certified infectious diseases physician with a special interest and training in transplant and immunocompromised patients. He is an assistant professor of clinical medicine in the section of infectious diseases at Temple. He completed his infectious diseases fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital and his medicine and chief residency at Hofstra-Northwell. In his free time he enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.


Nieatra Morant is a licensed registered nurse in Pennsylvania with over 15 years of experience in the acute healthcare setting with experience working with abdominal organ transplant recipients, cardiac surgery patients, heart failure patients, heart transplant recipients, and vascular surgery patients as well as planning and implementation of an electronic health record system in the acute healthcare setting.


John Mulligan has been a Registered Nurse for over 30 years. His experience is varied working with patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He has worked in the health care business sector as a clinical educator for medical device and pharmaceutical companies. His clinical specialties include renal and cardiac care. John has a passion for education and has been an adjunct faculty member for the Holy Family University RN-to-BSN program.


Ishani Shah is a post-graduate year 2 (PGY-2) pharmacy resident specializing in solid organ transplant at Temple University Hospital. She completed her post graduate year 1 (PGY-1) training at Temple University Hospital and earned her doctorate of pharmacy from Rutgers University in 2019. Her areas of interest include post-transplant immunosuppression, infection and rejection management along with educating patients on their new transplant medications.


Karen Vizza has 20 years of experience working in a hospital setting with duties ranging including nursing, research and administrative. She has been a registered nurse for over 11 years. With nursing experience working in med/surg, oncology, and clinical research for Phase I and Oncology. For the past 2 years, she has worked as a post-transplant kidney and pancreas nurse coordinator.