Difficult Conversations Podcast

Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician

Episode 184 | May 22, 2023

Giving the Gift of Life

Frank Mara, Matt Cavanaugh and Ned Brooks

Vice President of Community Relations for the New York Giants, President of the National Kidney Donation Organization, Founder and CEO of the National Kidney Donation Organization


Today, you’re in for a real treat because Dr. Orsini and Liz Poret-Christ are having a superstar loaded episode! This episode is about kidney donation. Liz shares a personal story about her daughter’s unlikely friendship with Frank Mara, Vice President of Community Relations for the New York Giants, and how he’s in need of a kidney transplant, which he’ll talk about with us. Also, on the list of superstars joining us is Matt Cavanaugh, an active duty US Army Strategist and President of the National Kidney Donation Organization. In 2022, he became the first living kidney donor to finish the full four deserts race in one year. Matt donated his left kidney in 2021 to a stranger and started a donation chain that facilitated eight transplants. Our next superstar is Ned Brooks, who’s the Founder and CEO of the National Kidney Donation Organization. He is a non-directed kidney donor who kickstarted a chain of three transplants in 2015. The organization has facilitated numerous transplants and helped find living donors for patients in need of a kidney transplant.

We start with learning about the National Kidney Donation Organization. They discuss the barriers to kidney donation and how the organization supports potential donors throughout the process and dispel misconceptions about kidney donation and discuss the physical recovery time. They explain that being a donor can be like an insurance policy for oneself, as donors move to the top of the list should they ever need a kidney later in life. Ned touches on the process of what happens after you donate your kidney. Matt shares his experience of becoming a sponsored athlete after his kidney donation and emphasizes that kidney donation has been a second wind to him. Ned discusses the differences between directed and non-directed donors and explains that non-directed donors often feel a deep sense of gratitude. Matt shares his most difficult conversation when he faced discussing his decision to donate with his family, particularly his wife. Ned tells us the story of the young mother that received his kidney and what happened.

We also have Frank Mara joining us. He shares his story of how he found out he needed a kidney transplant and meeting Ned, who’s been a godsend. Frank tells us his most difficult conversation, which was explaining to his kids what was going on. He’s had so much support from family and friends and after sending out emails asking for a kidney donation, many people have registered to donate, but he’s waiting to see if there’s a match. We’re all hoping for great news soon, Frank!

Share This Episode

Listen & Subscribe

If you enjoyed this podcast, please go ahead and hit subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.

Previous Episodes