Education Partners

Wayne County
Community College

Community College

Oakland University

Community College

Community College

Grand Rapids
Community College

Mott Community College

Western Michigan University

Henry Ford
Community College

Community College

Davenport University

Mercy College
of Northwest Ohio


OPT for a new start

The Alliance for Paired Donation, Inc. and Susan Rees have partnered together to provide a new and life changing opportunity for kidney transplant recipients. This program entitled, "OPT (Options Post-Transplantation) for a New Start" provides an opportunity for patients to acquire a college degree, maintain the health of their kidney, increase their return-to-work rate and begin to enjoy life again after transplantation.

Noncompliance with immunosuppressive medications among renal transplant patients is estimated to be the third leading cause of graft loss and a contributing factor in up to 25% of deaths in transplant patients after the initial recovery period. Studies suggest a correlation between increasing education and compliance with post-transplant therapy and return to normal age and socially appropriate functioning. The improvement in quality of life and the cost-benefit ratio obtained with renal transplant versus dialysis is widely known. Based on preliminary data obtained from a 2005 pilot program, OPT for a New Start initiated a postsecondary education opportunity for renal transplant recipients.

In the initial 2005 pilot program, six students participated in a one year certificate post-secondary education opportunity. Courses included life skills, computer-training, basic accounting and money management and resume and job interview technologies. Mentoring and tutoring assistance was available as well as internships at local businesses and job placement assistance upon program completion. One-third of the students completed the certificate program and continued to pursue higher education. One-third of the students returned to work, even though they did not continue on to obtain a degree. In 2008, the Opt for a New Start program expanded in size and scope to a tri-state area, including 4 participating transplant centers across 3 states and a community college offering Associates' degrees. The community college used a combination of successful support models taught by experienced faculty and based on the first year experience model [FYE] for Community Colleges. FYE Programming has demonstrated a strong correlation with student retention and achievement.

Significant results from that effort included the following:
    Retention Rate for Program = 58% (7 of 12 Patients)
    Employment Rate for Patients Who Dropped Out = 80% (4 of 5 Patients)
    Current Patient Survival Rate 100%
    Current Graft Survival Rate 100%.

Students reported increased well-being.

Expanded again in 2010 through a grant provided by the Gift of Life Foundation, Michigan, 17 transplant recipients from five transplant centers in the state of Michigan are currently attending 13 different educational institutions offering Certificates, Associates' degrees and Bachelors' degrees. In addition, one Ohio student continues to pursue a degree from Mercy College of Northwest Ohio. Data collection is ongoing.