News gets personal for KXAS reporter


Kristi Nelson is familiar to viewers of KXAS-TV (NBC) as an anchor and reporter, but this week in a series of special reports she is also deeply involved as a participant. In a touching, personal story, she tells of donating a kidney to her mother during a multi-part series titled “Kristi’s Gift.”

“I’m doing this because she’s my mother and I love her and I think she has a wonderful spirit,” said Nelson.  “I also think it’s an especially important message to send to minority communities, including African Americans and Hispanics.  The message is that we need to take care of ourselves and that if we do have contributing factors to kidney disease we can control them.”

Kristi’s Gift will examine kidney disease, organ donation and transplantation from the caring and emotional perspective of a mother and daughter.  Nelson, the youngest of four siblings, learned with her mother in early 2010 that a transplant was needed.  Nelson has witnessed her mother taking dialysis three times per week.  The series will examine their mother-daughter bond and factors leading up to their decision.

In addition to the on-air series, Kristi’s gift also has a special page on the NBC 5 website. Links on the page also take people to resources for kidney disease and tell the stories of others who are awaiting transplants.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease and millions of others are at increased risk, especially African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and seniors.

In Texas, more than 10,000 people await organs and 8,000 of those need kidneys according to the Southwest Transplant Alliance. 80% percent of those needing kidneys are minorities.

“Since kidney disease is often silent without any symptoms, it can sneak up on people, particularly those who are not aware of the major risk factors,” National Kidney Foundation Serving Texas, Director of Programs, Mark Edwards said. “Early detection, managing diabetes, and keeping a person’s blood pressure under control can make a difference in preventing kidney disease from becoming kidney failure.”

“Kristi’s generosity in publicly sharing her story should help many African Americans in Texas see that donating a kidney while alive, or donating organs after death, is a very loving and caring thing to do,” said Pam Silvestri, Public Affairs Director, Southwest Transplant Alliance.

Kristi’s Gift is airing during KXAS newscasts Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The series is being produced by NBC 5’s Emmy Award® winning team of Reginald Hardwick, executive producer; Noah Bullard, photojournalist; and Deborah Ferguson, NBC 5 Today Show anchor and reporter.