About

Save lives. Save communities.
Save the world.

Right now, around 100,000 people in the U.S. urgently need a kidney transplant to save their life. But based on yearly averages, only about 6,500 people will generously become a living kidney donor this year. Everyone else will continue to wait—year after year—until they hopefully one day receive their new kidney.

There simply aren’t enough living donors, and there are too many people waiting in line. It’s a losing numbers game, but we believe in our solution to fix it.

Kidneys for Communities has created a new pathway for living donors to actually play a role in who receives their kidney. “Community-directed donation” empowers potential donors to personalize their live-saving gift by directing their kidney donation to a specific “community” they want to support—including religious affiliations, fraternities and sororities, unions, alumni groups and more. This single, altruistic act can start a paired kidney chain that saves dozens of lives.

With nearly 750,000 Americans battling end-stage renal disease, there’s a good chance you personally know somebody who urgently needs help.

Mission & Vision

We believe we can change the world together

The mission of Kidneys for Communities is to address the shortage of kidneys needed for End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients through proactive community outreach programs. We believe that communities are uniquely designed to take care of each other, and our vision is to leverage the immense compassion of communities to radically increase the number of living kidney donors in the U.S.

Partners

It takes a village—and many
partners—to make this happen

Anyone who has been involved in a living kidney donation knows that the processes for finding and/or donating a kidney are layered and complex. We at Kidneys for Communities remove as many of the obstacles as possible for donors and recipients by partnering with nationally recognized kidney registries and pairing exchanges. We’re proud of the work we’ve put into creating a backend network of partners we trust to help us fulfill our mission to save lives through community-directed donation.

Team

Meet our community

Stan Stepkowski, DVM, Ph.D.

President

Dr. Stan Stepkowski stood at the origins of some the most widely used medications in transplantation. He was educated at University of Warsaw and Polish Academy of Sciences in Poland, and then trained at Radium Hospital in Oslo, Norway (where he earned his Ph.D.). He then moved on to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, for post-doctoral training, and then at the University of Texas in Houston, Texas. For over 40 years now, he has been working in experimental and clinical organ transplantation. For the last ten years, he has held a professorship position at The University of Toledo College of Medicine. Although he was very privileged to work in different countries, his home has been the United States. He is an extensively trained transplant immunologist experienced in clinical tissue typing and clinical immunology. A publication record of over 200 high-impact manuscripts, including clinical research papers, speaks for itself.

Ira L. Brody, Co-Founder and CEO

Co-Founder

In 2007, Ira Brody came out of retirement after a 40-year career as a CMO in marketing and public relations to assume the position of CMO of the National Kidney Registry and then the Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation. Brody wanted to venture into areas where he could use his experience to explore the laws and ethics hampering the acquisition of kidneys. He has said, “ESRD is not cancer; we know the answer…it is a living donor transplant! We also know that every healthy human being can potentially set off a chain that can save many lives…then why the problem?” Brody answers with a quote from Walt Kelly’s comic strip character, Pogo, “We have met the enemy and [it] is us.” Brody volunteered to be an altruistic kidney donor. “I could not work on a problem if my personal actions were not part of the solution.” He has lectured at universities throughout the country on cause-related marketing and has participated in numerous bioethics conferences throughout the world. For more information:

J.T. Shim, Ph.D., MBA

Community Outreach Coordinator

Growing up in Salem West Virginia, J.T. learned to dream big and organize himself to achieve big. In his college years, he worked in grounds, the mailroom, and duplicating in addition to earning an unprecedented three degrees: B.S. in computer science—business emphasis, B.S. in communications—journalism emphasis, and A.S. in accounting, with a minor in behavioral science. He moved on to complete his M.B.A. at Rollins, where he learned more acutely about the economics of supply and demand, optimization and constraints. Then, during his Ph.D. at UCF, J.T. took business with an M.I.S. concentration and an accounting minor. His future educational degrees and designations may include but are not limited to: J.D., M.F.A., C.P.A. and P.M.P.

J.T. has extensive public activities and a volunteering background. In college, he ran for seven offices and only lost twice. During his education he took part in five governmental internships: three in his birth city of Washington, DC, with members of Congress, and two in the state Capitol. One of those internships was with Rep. Al Gore, Jr., who cosponsored the National Organ Transplantation Act in 1984. That’s when he first started making inquiries for kidneys to meet specific needs. Subsequently one of his college roommates, followed by a UCF classmate, and more recently a fellow church member have all needed kidneys. He has focused on meeting the needs both personally and from a policy perspective. Currently, J.T. is undergoing medical screening to make a living kidney donation, but it is on hold due to Covid-19.

Robert C. Green II, Ph.D.

Chief Information Officer

Dr. Green has a unique history that blends professional expertise in software engineering, data analytics and consulting with research expertise in high performance computing and computational intelligence. In the past he has served in a variety of roles ranging from software engineer to director of wind and solar research. His professional mission is to leverage his unique and expansive background to positively impact as many lives as possible through the proper use of technology and analysis of data.

Beata Mierzejewska, M.D., Ph.D.

Medical Advisor

Dr. Mierzejewska finished medical school with a specialty in emergency medicine and anesthesiology and completed a Ph.D. in transplantation immunology. She has worked as a medical adviser in Novartis and Roche pharmaceuticals. For the last eight years she has worked at the University of Toledo College of Medicine. She has extensive experience in transplantation, as documented by her peer-reviewed publication record.

Dulat Bekbolsynov

Research Consulting

Dulat has a diverse background in science and kidney transplantation as well. He started his career in biomedical science as a part-time laboratory assistant in a city hospital in his home country of Kazakhstan in 2003. In 2006, he was accepted for an undergraduate microbiology program at Colorado State University in 2006, with tuition and costs sponsored by the government. His study was interrupted the same year by ESRD diagnosis and kidney transplantation. He was able to complete his undergraduate degree in 2010, and he then joined a stem cell research lab in Kazakhstan, where he worked on a regenerative medicine project until 2012. Finally, in 2014, he was lucky to join with Dr. Stepkowski to pursue his Ph.D. research in immunology at the University of Toledo. After completing his Ph.D. in 2018, he worked in a tissue typing lab at Gift of Life Michigan in Ann Arbor. Today, his Ph.D. research and postdoctoral career are dedicated to finding ways of mitigating the donor shortage crisis in the U.S.

Join our cause. If we can save a life, we can save the world.