The mission of the NKR is to save and improve the
lives of people facing kidney failure by increasing the quality, speed, and
number of living donor transplants in the world.
Every incompatible or poorly compatible living donor in the world will pass through a common registry
and find a well matched living donor in under six months.
The NKR is a nonprofit organization based out of Long Island,
registered under the laws of the State of New York and supported by counselors,
volunteers and partners around the world.
Message from the Founder
When Jan and Garet's youngest daughter was 10 years old, her kidneys suddenly
failed. After the biopsy they learned that she would never recover her kidney function. They
were in shock and quickly learned that a living donor transplant was her best option. Both Jan
and their oldest daughter, Brooke, were tested and ruled out as potential donors because they
were blood type incompatible.
Garet was blood type compatible, so he was worked up for donation. The transplant
surgery was scheduled for a Thursday in the middle of May. That Monday, they received a call
from the transplant center letting them know there was a problem and they needed to return to
the transplant center and do another cross-match test immediately. They took the additional test
and waited. Late Tuesday, 36 hours prior to surgery, they received another call from the
transplant center. Garet had failed the cross-match test again. Surgery was canceled. Garet
could not donate because their daughter would likely reject Garet's kidney because she had
developed a strong antibody against his B60 antigen as a result of a prior blood transfusion.
The following week, an anonymous donor surfaced who, after another trip to the
hospital and another cross-match test, was determined to be incompatible and failed the same
cross-match test that Garet had failed. In the weeks that followed, all of the uncles that were
initially tested failed subsequent cross-match tests. They had gone from seven donors to zero.
This was a dark time for the Hil family. In response to this, they worked around the clock to
contact and test additional donors.
They also attempted to enter every kidney exchange program in the United States.
None of these paired exchange programs were able to find a match for their daughter. Several
programs did not return phone calls and some of them wanted to force the Hils to switch to far
away hospitals for transplant surgery just to enter these exchange program. In the end, paired
exchange proved unsuccessful and after screening over a dozen potential direct donors, they
found one who was compatible and could donate – their daughter's 23-year-old cousin. He cleared
all the hurdles, was an excellent match, and is an incredible person.
The Hil's daughter received her new kidney on July 12, 2007. Both she and her cousin
are doing well. The Hil's primary focus now is helping other families who face the same problem
that they faced and staying healthy so that they can donate to their daughter in a swap, in the
event that she should ever need another transplant.
The Hil's transplant related challenges are behind them now, but there are thousands
of people who face these same challenges every year. As they struggled through the complex and
difficult process of finding a compatible donor, it was clear that there was a better way... If
all incompatible donors and recipients were simply listed in one common pool and modern computer
technology was used to find matches, the problems related to incompatible donors would be a
thing of the past. The National Kidney Registry was founded to make this vision a reality.
Founder and President
Garet became involved in kidney-related healthcare when his daughter was diagnosed with
kidney failure at age 10. Both he and his wife, Jan, wanted to donate but they were
incompatible. Their daughter received a kidney after a difficult and extensive donor
search. She and her donor are doing well. It was during this challenging period that
Garet and his wife committed to solve this problem by creating a better way to organize
living donor transplants that could save/improve the lives of thousands of people facing
Garet has 25+ years of business experience, including serving as Chief Executive Officer
for both public and private companies. In addition to leading the Registry, Garet
manages a software development company. Prior to starting the Registry, Garet led the $5
million dollar acquisition/turnaround of a digital printing company that was sold after
11 years under his leadership for $110 million dollars. Prior to this, Garet held
several management and technology positions at Electronic Data Systems, General Motors,
and other leading firms. Garet earned his MBA from the Wharton School, received his
undergraduate degree from the University of Montana, and served in the United States
Marine Corps. He lives in West Islip, New York with his wife and youngest daughter.
Senior Software Designer
Rich has 30+ years of experience innovating business solutions for leading
companies including Prudential, Merrill Lynch, ADP, and DST Systems. Progressing
from expanding the applicability of existing equipment, he later developed
complete, unique, proprietary systems, bridging inter-industry components
using self-conceived hardware. Systems featuring cross-industry component
integration generated new capabilities and economies, greatly broadening product
salability and realizing millions in savings. While Rich primarily developed
manufacturing systems for paper-based products or developed the product itself,
he also pioneered many operational and administrative processes, such as the
first mixed-weight mail postage payment system recognized nationally by the
U.S. Postal Service. In more recent years, Rich extended his ingenuity to
software development where his unique client software solutions garnered many
loyal customers. Rich received a bachelor’s degree in music composition,
performed professionally, and has written much original music.
Director of Operations
Tom’s interest in kidney-related healthcare is one of a very personal
nature. Tom’s father, at the age of 48, died as a result of kidney
failure. His father left behind a wife and five young children. Not only was
his father’s life cut short but his death became a major life-changing
experience for the entire family. Tom views kidney exchanges as an opportunity
to minimize the chances that other families will have to go through the same
devastating experience as he did and to offer a better life to those affected
by kidney disease.
Tom has 25+ years of management experience, including senior operating
positions at TIAA-CREF and JC Penney. While at TIAA-CREF, Tom was responsible
for the communication of sensitive financial information to 3.2 million
customers representing over $380 billion in assets under management. Tom has
managed large-scale operations and has extensive experience dealing with
technology-based mission-critical applications. Tom attended the New York
Institute of Technology and served 20 years in the New York Air National Guard.
Director of Research and Education
Joe and his family are personally connected to the issues related to
Kidney disease through his cousin who is facing kidney failure and in need
of a transplant. Joe is a seasoned executive with 15 years of success in
business development, relationship management, team management, and operations
leadership positions. Prior to joining the National Kidney Registry, Joe held
positions with RR Donnelley and Rapid solutions Group where he managed multi
million dollar business relationships with prominent Healthcare and Financial
services firms. Well versed in technology, Joe influenced the development of
groundbreaking document production and distribution solutions that changed
the industry and are still in use today. Joe holds an AAS in Business
Administration from SUNY Rockland in Suffern New York. Joe is also active in
his church where he served as president of an essential parish organization.
Director of Technology
Matt serves as the Information technology expert for the National Kidney Registry.
Matt has over 10 years of leadership experience working as a software
architect/designer, an information technology Manager, and a network engineer.
Matt has held positions with Telespectrum Worldwide, Intira, DST Systems, Rapid
Solutions Group, Global Document Solutions, and St. Francis Hospital. Matt brings
with him experience, technical skills, and management capabilities to support the
National Kidney Registry's ever expanding web presence and telecommunications
infrastructure. Matt's work with the National Kidney Registry brings him a
special joy in knowing that the work being done gives hope to those facing
Media Relations Manager
Brooke Hil initially became interested in the field of kidney transplant when her
ten-year-old sister was diagnosed with renal failure and subsequently required a
transplant, leading to an extensive and long lasting search for a donor. While
Brooke's sister is now doing well, she remains cognoscente of the fact that thousands
of people are currently on dialysis and in vital need of kidney transplants, and she
endeavors to shed light on the option of paired exchange through the forums of media
and public relations. Brooke graduated with a BA in English from Northeastern
University and is in the process of finishing her last semester at the Massachusetts
School of Law, where she plans to receive her Juris Doctorate degree. Hil would like
to combine her legal background and passion for media relations in an ongoing effort to
bring attention to paired exchange, so that all of those who are in need of transplants
or are considering donation are aware of what options exist. Brooke lives between New
York City and Boston, and she enjoys travelling, swimming, and writing. She believes
wholeheartedly in the mission of the National Kidney Registry, and encourages anyone
to contact her with inquiries regarding media relations.