Portrait of Michelle Crawford
Michelle Crawford, a registered nurse and abdominal transplant coordinator at UMMC Grenada, prepares patients from that region for a transplant on the UMMC campus in Jackson.
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People of the U: Michelle Crawford

Published on Wednesday, March 4, 2020

By: Ruth Cummins

Residents of Grenada and the larger region aren’t able to get a kidney, pancreas or liver transplant at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Grenada, but Michelle Crawford will get them started on that journey.

Crawford, a registered nurse and abdominal transplant coordinator at UMMC Grenada, leads a satellite clinic of the abdominal transplant program that’s based on the main Jackson campus. It provides much-needed access for Mississippians in the Delta and the northern half of the state who need services to prepare them for a transplant, but who might find it a hardship to travel to Jackson.

Crawford shepherds care that includes imaging and lab studies, placement on a transplant waiting list, and post-surgery follow-up appointments. The Grenada clinic sees a large number of patients, many from several hours away, who are in need of a pancreas or kidney transplant, she said.

“Most of them drive several hours to Grenada just so they can be placed on the national wait list through UMMC,” she said. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life, and if transplanting the patient improves their quality of life, then that’s our goal. Without organ donors, many of our patients would remain on dialysis and never be able to have a normal life.”

In 2018, the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency honored Crawford with the Hospital Leadership of the Year Award. MORA’s Spero Awards each year recognize hospital partners, medical professions and others who shine in promotion of organ, eye and tissue donation.

“I advocate for organ donation and our transplant program by speaking at various clubs,” Crawford said. “I am a guest speaker every year at Holmes Community College, where I speak to the nursing students about kidney transplants. Also, I plan activities and events every April to promote organ donation.”

Portrait of Dr. Pradeep Vaitla

Dr. Pradeep Vaitla, medical director of the Department of Nephrology, said Crawford is the glue that holds together the Grenada transplant clinic. “Patients travel to the Grenada clinic for services, and she gets everything done for them on the same day,” he said. “She has really taken it upon herself to expand the program in Grenada.

“Her biggest impact is getting patients on the transplant list,” he said. “There’s been a 25 to 30 percent growth of patients from the Grenada area on the transplant list in the last five years.”

Crawford stays busy with passions outside the workplace. She teaches junior high Sunday school at her church, “and I volunteer in the church TV studio,” she said. “I actually work the cameras and sound and broadcast on cable TV and on Facebook.” 

The married mom of three boys, Crawford aspires to take a Disney World trip with the family every year. “Honestly, my boys keep me too busy for any hobbies!” she said.

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