Transplant patient journey highlights excellent care

Andrea Joyner was on the verge of dying when she became the recipient of UT Southwestern’s first combined heart and liver transplant. Two years later, the singer-songwriter still remembers not only the names of the surgeons who saved her, but also the nurses, nutritionists, cleaning staff, and everyone else on her care team whose pursuit of excellence, compassion, teamwork and innovation returned her to health, showing why UT Southwestern is among the top 10 percent of academic medical centers in the country in patient experience and outcomes.


♪ Summer's gone without a sound ♪ ♪ No more flowers on the ground ♪ ♪ Where will you go to fight the cold ♪ ♪ If you leave before the fall ♪ ♪ Take a chance and lose it all ♪ ♪ Please take me with you if you go ♪

When I'm on stage and I'm able to do what I love which is sing and play music, I definitely think about everybody who has been by my side through the worst and best times of my life and they're all the reason why I'm still here. My surgeons, my nurses, my technicians, everyone here at UT Southwestern, not only did they save my life, as well as my donor, my hero, not only did they all save my life, they made sure that I got a bigger and better life. I feel better than I ever have. I'm two years out and I never imagined that I could feel this good. I'm Andrea Joyner. I'm from Edgewood, Texas and I am the first heart and liver transplant patient here at UT Southwestern Medical Center on September 6th and 7th of 2016. They knew exactly what I needed when nobody else did. While I was here waiting on a heart transplant, the heart team and the liver team worked very well together. They would have a meeting on Thursdays to discuss my case and they eventually decided that I currently need a heart transplant, but eventually with my hemochromatosis, my blood disorder, I was probably going to need a liver as well and it would be to my benefit that we go ahead and receive a liver from the same donor so it would prevent me from having other problems in the future. And when you're scared that you're about to lose your life because of an illness, it is important that the people that are taking care of you, tend to you medically, as well as emotionally to make sure that you have faith in them and that they make you feel comfortable. A patient's care here is important to my surgeons, my cardiologists, my liver specialist, my renal team to the men and women who were bringing me oatmeal in the morning. It doesn't matter what they do here, they were all important to my recovery and my health. I learned a lot from my time being in the ICU to being on the floor, a lot about respect. Everyone of any title there was a courtesy and a kindness and everybody working together to make their patients feel like they're gonna be okay.

Sometimes patients are so grateful for the care that they get and when they're in a bed like Andie Kay, when you're going through something that can be so life-changing for you, your family, for the next phase of your life, knowing that you can come to a place like UT Southwestern and get all of your needs met, even the needs that you don't know you have, we've thought of them and we have processes in place to address those. One of the things I keep top of mind is what do I do that is going to touch a life to save a life? I very much ascribe to when patients come to our care, our number one obligation and responsibility is to ensure that they leave here better than when they came.

Excellence, compassion, innovation and teamwork and I say it in that order because it's really that piece of the teamwork that comes through that really saves lives and makes this really a trusted place. I've never seen a year like we had last year. The rate of improvement and across every single service line. Almost 200 additional lives were saved last year which got us a Rising Star Award when you look at Vizient which has 95% of all of the Academic Medical Centers. We were recognized in that regard. You will get the best outcomes. You will have the best experience, and we're going to be a great steward of that healthcare dollar. We want to be the trusted place for people to receive their care.

I'm proud of the individuals I work with. I'm proud that I get to work in a place like this. The core values that we publicize are around excellence in care and innovation which we love because we love asking the questions, compassion and how we really care for the whole entire family and show that compassion to each other and not just the patient in the bed, but everyone that we care for and teamwork which is huge for all of us. You do get to see these values in play every day and it looks a little different in different environments. When I walk into Clements University Hospital, it might be what I saw this morning which was someone helping get a wheelchair for a patient that needed to come in for a procedure and the kindness in the voice. Sometimes it's about meeting with groups of team members and just listening to them talk with each other about trying to get to the right point to give the best care that they can for the patient. Sometimes it's simply someone in the lunch line giving you a smile, but it plays out all the time here.

I think excellence, teamwork, innovation, compassion, if we can integrate that into every individual, faculty, employee, student. Everyone carries those core values, that's when we can start making a difference. It's like a table. It needs all legs to support itself and when we work as a team like that with all those core values, that's when we can start making changes that help our patients. As a student, I have been able to have a mentor and a group of students and we work together, we collaborate and see patients together which models the teamwork that UT Southwestern truly values. ♪ All the skies are turned gray ♪

If you can give them just a little bit of their life back, to give them a voice back to be able to sing again, to be able to share that hope with someone else, I think that is so powerful and as a student, I've gotten to meet a few patients and they leave an impression on your heart. You don't forget them. They give you purpose. And so those stories are truly an inspiration to me, and I hope to continue to meet people and to help people and hear their stories. ♪ Survive, next time I'll go ♪

There's no amount of thank yous. There should be a better word than thank you because I'm alive because of all these wonderful and brilliant people, as well as my donor. And how do you repay someone for that? You can't. The gratitude is immeasurable. I'm living and that's the greatest gift that anybody could ever receive. ♪ One more day ♪ ♪ Oh butterfly fly fly away ♪ ♪ Oh butterfly fly away ♪ ♪ Oh butterfly ♪ ♪ Fly away ♪ Thank you all so much for being here tonight at Poor David's Pub. Thank you for being here for such a great cause we have enjoyed it and everybody please go sign up to be a donor.