Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Transplant Nurse Coordinator Alexandra Wierzbicki
Apr 17, 2020 Agata Smieciuszewski
A patient going through a transplant journey comes into contact with many smiling faces along the way, from appointment schedulers to transplant coordinators to nurses to surgeons and more.
We talked to Cedars-Sinai kidney transplant nurse coordinator Alexandra Wierzbicki about what inspired her to pursue her career and her favorite part of the job.
What does your average day look like?
Alexandra Wierzbicki: I work on the kidney transplant living donor team. My job is following our donors all the way through the process. I love my job, and I feel like I meet a lot of people who can't say that, so I feel really blessed to really enjoy what I do.
A typical day is a lot of education about the process—who can be a donor and what all the testing is to become a donor. The biggest questions are how people will feel with one kidney, and how they can live a normal, healthy life with one kidney.
What inspired you to pursue your career in medicine?
AW: I've always liked helping people, so nursing just felt like the right path. And then my cousin-in-law donated a kidney to her mom and told me the transplant floor was amazing, and she thought I'd be a really good fit there.
How has COVID-19 affected your job and what your team is doing over there?
AW: All of our living donor surgeries are on hold, which is a huge bummer. We had a pretty full schedule into May, and putting everything on hold was disappointing to us and especially to our patients.
The donors are often very involved with a lot of different things in life. One of our social workers used to always say, "Donors are doers." Putting life on hold has been difficult for donors, but obviously everybody is understanding.
For my team, we've transitioned to working from home most days of the week, so it's been hard to not physically see our patients.
How has the transition to remote work been?
AW: I just think technology is amazing! I am able to use a remote desktop, so I feel like I'm working at my normal desk, but from home.
What's your favorite part of your job?
AW: I just think that donors are really special people, and it's not for everyone. It's really neat to hear why people are led to being a kidney donor—sometimes it's straightforward, like for a family member, but other times, it's for a complete stranger. I love hearing about that.
What excites you about the future?
AW: I think transplant is always quickly evolving. It will be very interesting to see where things go with potentially growing organs in a lab.
I think there always will be a need for living donors, potentially, but I think it's important to educate more people and overcome some of those misconceptions of organ donation.
What do you do outside of work?
AW: I'm a mom of identical twins—they just turned 3. So that's my main focus. I also have a golden retriever-yellow lab mix named Rexford. We love to spend time outdoors.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
AW: I would say in relation to the kids, just enjoy every minute—even when it's hard. And I think that can be applied to life in general.