B Positive, a new CBS sitcom, sheds light on kidney transplants and the experience for both donors and recipients.
Heather Black, a senior research assistant at Frenova Renal Research, a Fresenius Medical Care Company, was excited to see B Positive bring attention to the need for kidney transplants. She recently became a donor to her husband, who received his first kidney transplant in 1998 with his mother as his donor. But after 20 years, his transplant started failing.
Given her experience in the renal field, Heather has seen both the hope and struggle of patients in need of a donor. So, when she learned that her husband needed another kidney transplant, she was eager to help in any way possible. It turns out she was a perfect match.
“It’s pretty selfish – I wasn’t ready to lose my husband,” Heather said. "I still have a hard time comprehending that he has my kidney, that it's working and it's doing what it’s supposed to be doing. I can't explain the euphoria and the relief from all the peaks and valleys of the whole transplant process, that we're doing okay. Learning that I have this gift that I can give back and help alleviate some of those troubles.”
“B Positive” focuses on Drew, a therapist who discovers he needs a kidney transplant. While in search of a kidney donor, he runs into an old high school acquaintance who is the perfect match. The series watches Drew navigate the world of kidney transplants all while trying to “be positive.”
“B Positive” is a step forward in raising awareness of the 550,000 people receiving life-sustaining dialysis, and the 95,000 looking for a kidney donor. While kidney donations from living relatives are widely known, unrelated or “altruistic” donation is less publicized and occurs infrequently.
Fresenius Medical Care North America is committed to ensuring all patients have access to transplant as the first and best option for treatment of kidney failure. The company has implemented a series of initiatives in recent years to help more patients receive this gift of life, including updating its electronic health records to better track and educate patients in their transplant journey. Additionally, the Fresenius Medical Care Foundation is focused on raising awareness of kidney disease and transplantation as a lifesaving solution.
“Renal transplantation provides even greater survival benefit as well as a return to normal lifestyle not achievable with dialysis,” wrote Jeffrey L. Hymes, M.D., Executive Vice President, Global Head of Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for Fresenius Kidney Care in North America, in a chapter on transplantation for the company’s Global Annual Medical Report. “Yet, while dialysis is readily available for nearly 550,000 patients at more than 7,000 clinics in the United States, only 22,000 transplants were performed in 2018.”
Despite the need for increased education and improvement around kidney transplantation, the 22,000 transplants are a 6.5% increase over 2017, marking an all-time high in kidney transplants, according to the United States Renal Data System (USRDS) 2020 Annual Report. In 2017, there were approximately 15,000 deceased donor transplants with 6,000 accounting for living donors. Additionally, the number of incident ESRD patients who received a preemptive transplant or selected home dialysis increased to 18,631 in 2018, accounting for 14.2% of all incident ESRD patients.
During National Kidney Month, Fresenius Kidney Care patient Doug Pomeroy who is awaiting his kidney transplant was featured on CBS 4 in Indianapolis as his story mirrors the premise of B Positive. To watch Doug’s story click here.