Valinda Jones, M.S.N., RN, recently reflected on her work as volunteer with the OPTN Board of Directors and committees, and the importance of participation from transplant patients, caregivers and donation advocates.
To learn more about OPTN volunteer opportunities, visit the Get Involved page.
What was your transplant experience?
I’m a 12-year kidney recipient. I am a registered nurse and was in hospital administration—my specialty was high-risk labor and delivery, which I did for 30 years. After my dialysis and transplant experience, I made a career change to transplantation so that I could give back for my gift of life.
I had a living donor transplant and started a kidney chain with an altruistic donor who was a career Air Force member. They actually changed Air Force policy to allow my donor to be able to donate to me and stay on active duty.
What committees have you served on?
I serve on the OPTN and UNOS Board of Directors, the Nominating Committee and the Executive Committee. I have also had the pleasure of serving on the Kidney Transplantation Committee.
What can a patient perspective bring to policy development?
Being a member on the Board of Directors, or on any of the committees, is an opportunity to ask questions and pose alternatives that the healthcare professionals may not think of but that are important to patients and families. Their focus can be so clinically oriented that they may lose sight of the day-to-day practical things.
What do you want people to know about getting involved?
I encourage people that have gone through a transplant, particularly those who are brand new, as well as those that are long-term transplant recipients, to get involved and to advocate on behalf of the patients. Because again, we’re our own best advocates and we are the most important role on the board and on the committees to give that voice to the patients.