Our Team

Upstate's kidney transplant program is comprised of the following multidisciplinary team of specialists who manage our patients' care through the entire transplant process.  Their goal is to provide the best care possible so that our patients can quickly return to a full and productive life:

  • Transplant Surgeons:

    Transplant Nephrology:

    Transplant Nurse Practitioner:

    • Reeba Thankachan, MSN, NP, C

    Transplant Surgery Administrator:

    • Juliann Axton, MS, RN

    Team Leader:

    • Amanda Demperio

    Transplant Coordinators:

    • Liz Alissandrello, RN, ASN, Post-Transplant Coordinator
    • Ellen Havens, RN, BSN, CCTC, Transplant Coordinator
    • Lavell Jones, RN, ASN, CCTC, Living Donor Coordinator
    • Galina Koval, RN, ASN, Pre-Transplant Coordinator
    • Caley Michalski, RN, BSN, Post-Transplant Coordinator
    • Debra Abbott, RN, ASN, CCTC Pre-Transplant Coordinator
    • Heidi Smileuske, RN, BSN, CCTC, Post-transplant Coordinator
    • Samantha Saxby, RN, BSN, Pre-Transplant Coordinator

    Social Worker

    • Tania Lyons, LMSW


    • Karina Olivera-Wright, LMSW

    Financial Coordinator

    • Nyellka Brown, CPC
    • Lisa Donovan, BPS

    Transplant Nutritionist

    • Terry Podolak, RD

    Transplant Pharmacist

    • Christine Yang, Pharm. D.,BCPS

    Medical Office Support Staff

    • Melissa McDougal - Secretary
    • Byran Bibbs, CMA
    • Tosha Cuadra, CMA
    • Tyler Graham, CMA
    • Michele Wanamaker, CMA

    Donor Advocate

    • Jennifer Kite, LMSW