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 Physician Assistant:

  • Sharon Dennis, PA

Transplant Nurse Practitioner:

  • Reeba Thankachan, MSN, NP, C

Transplant Surgery Administrator:

  • Juliann Axton, MS, RN

Team Leader:

  • Amanda Demperio

Transplant Quality:

  • Karina Olivera-Wright

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

Financial Coordinators:

  • Nyellka Brown, CPC
  • Lisa Donovan, BPS

Transplant Nutritionist:

  • Terry Podolak, RD

Transplant Pharmacist:

  • Christine Yang, Pharm. D., BCPS

Medical Office Support Staff:

  • Tosha Cuadra, CMA
  • Tyler Graham, CMA
  • Michele Wanamaker, CMA

Donor Advocate:

  • Jennifer Kite, LMSW