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Former NFL player and kidney recipient visits Emory University Hospital

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Janet Christenbury

Former NFL player and kidney transplant recipient, Donald Jones, visits Robert Burns of Decatur, who recently received a new kidney.

Donald Jones, former NFL player and kidney transplant recipient, visits Angela Parks at Emory University Hospital. Parks, from Decatur, is a recent kidney transplant recipient.

Former NFL player Donald Jones, who received a kidney transplant in 2013 following kidney disease, visited kidney transplant patients at Emory University Hospital on Wed., March 16. He also visited with faculty and staff at the Emory Transplant Center.

Jones was a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills from 2010 to 2012. While playing with the Bills, he developed high blood pressure and experienced some vision loss. Then the New England Patriots signed him in 2013. But only a few months later, he was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, a kidney disorder that occurs when IgA, a protein that helps the body fight infections, settles in the kidneys. Treatment for the disorder is dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Jones retired from the NFL in August 2013 at just 25 years old. In December 2013, Jones received a life-saving kidney transplant from his father. Since then, he has been traveling the country bringing attention to and raising money for IgA nephropathy.

Kidney transplant recipients Robert Burns and Angela Parks, both from Decatur, were happy to have Jones drop by their Emory University Hospital rooms for a visit last week.

Jones recently published his autobiography, The Next Quarter: Scoring Against Kidney Disease. Emory Transplant Center faculty and staff had the opportunity to attend a book signing with Jones.

While at Emory, Jones was also interviewed for an educational video about dialysis and kidney transplantation. Rachel Patzer, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of surgery in Emory University School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health, recently received funding to develop the video following her study about kidney transplant rates, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August 2015.

The study found only about one in four patients with end-stage renal disease in Georgia was referred by a dialysis facility to a transplant center for evaluation within one year of starting dialysis. Patzer hopes the video will educate dialysis patients about transplant as a treatment option and encourage patients to discuss transplant with their providers and family members.

The video will be distributed to dialysis centers throughout the U.S. that have low rates of transplant or racial disparities in access to transplant.

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