by Annette Pinder

Dr. Liise Kayler, program director of the Regional Transplantation and Kidney Care Center of Excellence at Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), is determined to help people who need a kidney transplant. Of the 808,000 people living in the U.S. with end stage kidney disease (ESKD), about 69% are on dialysis, and 31% have undergone a transplant. Dr. Kayler estimates that 250,000 people are eligible to receive a transplant, but don’t know about it, and 100,000 people are on a waiting list.

Last year, Dr. Kayler’s program performed 151 kidney transplants, exceeding the previous year’s total. She attributes the record breaking numbers to the center’s relentless effort to get people with ESKD on the transplant list. She says, “In most locations, people wait up to eight years to receive a kidney, but the average wait time in Buffalo is only 14 months, one of the shortest in the country.”

To help spread the word about kidney transplants, Dr. Kayler created a series of short, easy-to-understand and animated educational videos to test people’s reaction to them in a randomized clinical trial. “Some patients receive the easy-to-understand videos, while others receive a standard-of-care video. We are seeing that those who receive the short engaging videos display a higher level of knowledge, interest, and readiness for a kidney transplant from a live donor, compared to the group receiving the traditional video,” says Dr. Kayler. Her goal is to begin disseminating the videos in August, after compiling the final study results by the end of July.

Patients with ESKD learn about the process of getting on a waiting list from their physicians, or at dialysis centers, where social workers, nurses, and technicians provide them with brochures and other literature, and answer questions. Still, it is often difficult for the average patient to navigate the process, and Dr. Kayler is particularly concerned about health care inequities that can make it even harder. According to the National Kidney Foundation, men are 1.6 times more likely to develop ESKD than women, and Black people are nearly 4 times more likely to develop ESKD than their White counterparts, while Hispanic and Native Americans are 2 times more likely to develop ESKD. Based on what she is seeing from initial results of the study, Dr. Kayler thinks the shorter, more engaging videos will help.

Dr. Kayler is working to save lives and make a difference in our community, and we are fortunate to have her leadership. She was Director of the kidney and transplant program at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, NY, practiced at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplant Institute in Pittsburgh, and was Director of the Living Kidney Transplant Program at Shands Hospital University of Florida. Now, as in the past, she collaborates with institutions across the U.S. to improve transplant care, mentor the next generation of transplant surgeons, increase patient access to transplants, and increase opportunities for transplants by improving the use of deceased and living donors.

Learn more about the kidney transplant process and becoming a live kidney donor by calling (716) 898-5001. See videos of Dr. Kayler explaining the process at