National Kidney Foundation to fete Calhoon, Fried, Nichols

Three health professionals who have increased public awareness of transplantation and who have encouraged many area families through their tireless and competent work will receive the Kathryn Dial Murray “Gift of Life” Award this week from the National Kidney Foundation of South and Central Texas. The honorees are John Calhoon, M.D., professor of surgery at Health Science Center ; Terrance Fried, M.D., president of the San Antonio Kidney Disease Center; and LaRhea Nichols, M.S.N., assistant professor of surgery at the Health Science Center.

The 2005 Gift of Life Gala begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at Oak Hills Country Club. The evening will include a reception, dinner and the awards presentation. The gala chairs are Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center, and his wife, Graciela.

Dr. Calhoon holds the Calhoon President’s Council Chair for Excellence in Surgery, a chair established two years ago in honor of the Calhoon family, which has produced five outstanding surgeons including Dr. Calhoon. He is a past volunteer with the Gift for Life Gala Committee.

“Part of the National Kidney Foundation’s mission is encouraging transplants of all organs and assisting families,” said Marolyn Stubblefield, president and CEO of the National Kidney Foundation of South and Central Texas. “It is Dr. Calhoon’s great advancement of pediatric heart transplants in our region that prompted us to honor him.”

Dr. Fried completed a fellowship at the Health Science Center before entering private practice in nephrology. “He is a wonderful example of a Health Science Center graduate who is giving back to the community,” Stubblefield said.

Nichols is the senior administrator of the Transplant Center at the Health Science Center and University Health System. “LaRhea has been one of the major driving forces in renal transplantation and other organ transplantation in San Antonio for almost 20 years,” said Glenn Halff, M.D., director of the Transplant Center. “She ran the program during a time when there was no renal transplant surgeon. She then led the transplant program to grow to be one of the largest programs in the state. During that time she was an officer in the National Kidney Foundation, taught renal nurse coordinators how to evaluate and care for renal transplant patients, worked as a nurse coordinator herself, and oversaw the planning and building of the Trinkle Transplant Unit (the state-of-the-art University Hospital unit named for pioneering Health Science Center transplant surgeon J. Kent Trinkle). She is so highly respected by the personnel working for her that there has been very low turnover over an extended period of time. She’s an incredible person and administrator.”

With so many ties to the honorees and with such a great passion for the future of transplantation in South Texas, it is not surprising that the Health Science Center and University Health System joined to become a gold sponsor of the Gift of Life Gala.

“We are a charity,” Stubblefield said, “and the gala is an important annual source of funding for patient programs and services. We also support research at the Health Science Center. To date, our research grants to Health Science Center faculty have exceeded a quarter of a million dollars.”

Dr. Cigarroa is a noted pediatric and transplant surgeon. The Cigarroas’ leadership in supporting the gala extends far beyond what the South and Central Texas affiliate could accomplish on its own. “The Cigarroas are so highly regarded in the broader community that to have them go to bat for us is wonderful,” Stubblefield said.

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