Grethchen Abdulreda, Kidney Transplant Nurse Practitioner and Coordinator for Pediatrics at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, holds the distinction of helping launch the Joe DiMaggio’s pediatric and Memorial's adult kidney transplantation programs in 2017.
She left her position at Jackson Memorial Hospital specifically to be part of this outstanding new program.
“I participated in writing policies and protocols for the Memorial Transplant Institute. I took care of the first patients from the beginning. It was an extremely rewarding experience to be part of starting a program from scratch,” says Grethchen.
The Memorial Transplant Institute has grown exponentially since then, obtaining license to perform kidney transplantations, and subsequently, completing 50 kidney transplants in the span of a little over one year. On June 17, the transplant team achieved a critical milestone by performing the institute’s first living-donation kidney transplant in a pediatric patient. The mother of this 15-year-old transplant recipient is the kidney donor.
Grethchen’s dedication to nursing and kidney transplantation is rooted in personal experience. Born in Nicaragua, she came to Pembroke Pines as a teenager and majored in pre-med in college. After graduating with her bachelor’s in science degree, she worked in research at the University of Miami’s Department of Urology. That’s where her interests took a different turn.
“I fell in love with nursing,” says the mother of two. “The way I saw nurses taking care of the patients, listening to them, being there for them. They were very compassionate. That’s not to say the doctors weren’t, but the nurses had something special through their constant interaction with the patients.”
That’s when Grethchen decided to go back to school to become a nurse. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Miami and later a Master of Science degree in nursing from Florida Atlantic University. Grethchen worked a few years as a bedside nurse in the OB/GYN emergency room at Jackson Memorial Hospital. She then moved to transplant, where she has been for the last 13 years; the last two of which have been with the Memorial Transplant Institute.
“Before I met my husband, I was curious about kidney transplant because I saw how it affected my family members. One of my cousins died after receiving a kidney transplant,” Grethchen says.
Then her mother-in-law passed away in Lebanon while on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. With renal disease shadowing her children from both sides of the family, Grethchen became very interested in kidney transplant. After becoming a mother, she grew particularly vigilant about protecting the health of her children.
“I’m very passionate about kidney transplant and can’t picture myself doing anything else. I go above and beyond with my kids to take care of their kidneys. I ensure that they always keep hydrated, but more importantly I monitor their urine in the morning,” she says of her 9- and 7-year-old.
While Grethchen takes renal health in her own family and with her patients very seriously, she also knows how to have fun. She loves spending time with her family and friends and enjoys dancing to music videos. She enjoys shopping, too. Her constant pleasant personality and smile at work reflect her enthusiasm for her job. Her love and caring for her family also inspire every aspect of her interaction with patients. Her motto is to treat every one of her patients like she would a family member.
“My coworkers know that I am passionate about kidney transplantation. They know how much I love my job and enjoy helping my patients,” Grethchen says. “I’m dedicated to my family and friends and to providing my patients the best care I can.”