Tita Bordinger Herron has been with the transplant center at Mayo Clinic in Florida for 25 years.
When it began as a liver transplant program, Bordinger Herron was there. She joined the team as a medical secretary. The teamwork and compassion she witnessed as her colleagues cared for patients made her want to be a nurse. So she pursued a nursing degree and returned to work in the Transplant Department.
The transplant center grew to add kidney transplant, and heart and lung transplant. It has reported some of the highest volumes, lowest median wait times, and highest survival rates in the country, based on data published by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.
As the transplant center celebrates its 25th anniversary, Bordinger Herron shares her thoughts on how her career has grown alongside the program.
What has your journey been like since you joined the transplant center 25 years ago?
I started as a medical secretary in 1998 with the liver transplant program. Working with the physicians and nurses on the team was the reason I went back to school and earned my nursing degree. The teamwork and compassion for patient care demonstrated by the staff were the biggest influence on my decision to pursue my nursing degree. I left for about six months but ultimately realized that the transplant program was where I wanted to dedicate my career.
What roles have you held as a transplant team member?
I have worked for the transplant center as a medical secretary — now known as a medical administrative assistant. I am now a nurse coordinator for the pre-liver transplant and pre-kidney and pancreas transplant programs.
What does your role involve?
I oversee the evaluation of patients in need of a kidney or pancreas transplant. I also provide education to patients about the evaluation and transplant process, and assist the physicians with reviewing test results. I present patient cases to the selection committee to determine candidacy for transplant and inform patients of the committee's decision. I then conduct regular follow-ups with patients to be sure there has been no change in their overall health that could affect their transplant candidacy.
What would someone be surprised to learn about your job?
It's the complexity of the health of our patients and the multitude of moving parts involved in the evaluation and transplant process. We are constantly interacting with different entities, including other medical specialties and the scheduling team, while maintaining communication with our patients.
What has been most rewarding about working in the transplant center?
What is most rewarding for me is seeing patients come back to Mayo for their follow-up appointments after they have received a transplant. They look completely different — healthy again. Sometimes, I actually recognize their spouse or caregiver before I recognize the patient. The transformation is incredible. In addition, the compassion that the staff has for the patients and each other is amazing.