Mentee-Mentor Program

The Program Background

The Mentor-Mentee Program is the initial service offered by TransplantTalk SC to pre-transplant patients and comes during the critical emotional stage.  Speaking to an experience mentor on a one-on-one basis will help the patient as they navigate the transplant path. The goal of the program is to help comfort, the pre-transplant patient.  The program allows the patient the opportunity to speak to a transplant recipient, one who has been down the path of a similar organ transplant. For more information on the role of the mentor and other features, click Here where you can also request a mentor as well. 

Mission Statement

The mission of MENTEE-MENTOR program is to communicate with the pre-transplant patient during the most critical path to a transplant.  Our experience as recipients will provide the one-on-one communication that will comfort those who may be going through many emotions never experienced before. The benefits of that communication should make it easier for the patient to navigate the transplant path.  The piece of mind the patient receives can be priceless.

How Does the Program Work

There is basically a five-step process for the program to start as follows:

1) The pre-transplant patient will learn about the TTSC organ support group generally through one of MUSC nurse coordinators, who can provide contact information to learn more about the Program;

2) The patient can then call, or text, Gary Simmons, Program Coordinator, at 704-699-3046, or go to the TTSC website at www.TransplantTalkSC.org and tap the link Mentee Identification;

3) The patient can then fill out the form and hit send. Gary will receive it and may contact the patient to answer other questions, or have another qualified mentor contact them to begin the one-on-one communication;

4) The mentor will either text, or call, to schedule their first communication. If the mentee wants to meet, that is also an option. Or even conducting via a zoom call is possible.

5) The mentor will keep communication logs of the meetings. The sessions can end at any time during the process.

Mentor Profiles

The characteristics and requirements of the Mentor recipient include:

  • Recommended as a good match with the pre-patient by TransplantTalk SC; 
  • Possesses a healthy understanding of both the pros and cons of transplantation; 
  • Has a positive attitude and is emotionally stable; 
  • Completed the mentor training workshop; 
  • Is committed to The Mentor Project and its guidelines; 
  • Understands and agrees to abide by confidentiality and disclaimer policies;  
  • Works well within the referral process; 
  • Makes the initial contact with the mentee within 72-hours of receiving referral; 
  • Listens and provides one-on-one communication support; 
  • Shares personal transplant path experiences that may be similar to the patients, but does not give medical advice; 
  • Follows up with future contacts, or meetings, agreed upon with mentee; 
  • Reports mentoring to TransplantTalk SC per the mentor project guidelines.

Gary’s life was saved by a liver donor in Jan of 2013.  His mission in life since being saved by a hero donor has been to help “pay it forward” by creating more awareness about organ donation, resulting in getting more to register at the DMV, leading to more lives saved.  Helping a patient navigate the path to a transplant is part of that mission.  Gary has been married for 48 years to Lib McGregor Simmons, Presbyterian Pastor, and has one son, Stewart McGregor Simmons.

Gary Simmons

2013 Liver Transplant

In 2018 James underwent a heart transplant which altered his life, but strengthened his purpose to share hope, faith and inspiration, via his testimony on a variety of platforms.  He provides coping strategies for endurance and positive thinking while being a support and mentor to others on the journey to transplant. James is married to his lifelong partner, Bridget and they have one son, Justin.

James Dewees

2018 Heart Transplant

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Elliott Hutchinson

2018 Heart Transplant

Carol Dolida, 73, had a liver and kidney transplant at MUSC in 2006. Since then she has donated much of her time to helping others deal with all aspects of the transplant process. She has been a speaker and volunteer for Sharing Hope SC and was head of the transplant support group at MUSC for eight years. Carol has been married to Roger for 53 years. They are truly blessed to have two children and since being transplanted has gotten to spoil her two grandsons.

Carol Dolida

2000 Kidney Transplant

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Theo Sotiroglou

2017 Liver Transplant

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Will the mentor be one who has had the same organ transplant as the mentee?

The plan includes providing a mentor recipient who has had the same organ transplant that the pre-transplant is awaiting.

2) Will TTSC have any communication with the transplant center?

The primary communication is with the mentee.  If red flag issues arise and cannot be resolved with the mentee, it is possible some communication will occur with the transplant center.  An example might be if the mentee is not properly staying on the medication plan for some unknown reason.  If cost or possible delivery issues are preventing this, the center may help resolve.

3) Will information shared be kept confidential?

Unless the mentee gives permission to the mentor for some reason to communicate with the transplant center, all communication with be confidential.  This assumes that critical red flags such as the medications one referenced above cannot be resolved.

4) Can you give examples of how you have helped others?

The examples vary and include: a) the mentee has particular reactions to medications that;  the mentor can relate to as they similar reactions; b) giving helpful information for the mentee to help educate others in her church in an effort to ask for a kidney donor; c) describe to the pre-kidney mentee what tools might be used in their effort to ask for a donor; d) describe the process of how organs are allocated; e) describing some successful stories of pre-kidney patients to receive a kidney; f) as a result of improper and rude communication between patient and transplant center professionals, we communicated with the patient advocacy department with news they need to follow-up with; g) answer numerous other questions that focus on making the mentee feel comfortable on their road to a transplant.

5) Does the program cost anything to participate?

NO.  The  mentors have been blessed and want to “pay it forward”, possibly giving them greater comfort level as they maneuver the transplant path.

6) What region do you cover?

The plan was to focus on patients in South Carolina who are listed at MUSC.  However, given the social media feature of our present day, we have assisted folks in Georgia and North Carolina.  It should be noted that particularly with kidneys, patients may be listed at centers in each state.

7) Can you assist more with the resources listed?

YES.  We have included some of the basic resources might require on their road to a transplant.  More resources will be added as we find out about and vet them.  Also, the mentee also has the benefit of communicating with social workers at the transplant center.

REQUEST MENTOR:  If you would like to ask for a Mentee, just tap this button, fill out the form and hit send. 

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact us about the Program or other questions about TTSC Fill in your questions or comments, contact info and hit send. We will get back with you. If you would like a Mentor, tap the below mentor request button, fill out the form and hit send.

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