University of South Florida

Pharmacy students build awareness for organ transplantation through new program

Taking a cue from USF’s own innovative pharmacy program of introducing students to as many specialties as possible before they enter the workforce, two USF pharmacy students have formed an interest group aimed at exposing rising pharmacists to the field of transplant medicine and the huge role pharmacists have in helping transplant patients manage their care.


Misty Ochotny adn Athar Naif.

The Solid Organ Transplant Interest Group was started by Athar Naif and Misty Ochotny, two students from the USF College of Pharmacy’s charter class. The goal of the group is to raise awareness of the specialty, as well as raise awareness for organ donation, said Naif. Athar and Misty are both entering into their fourth year of pharmacy school and plan to specialize in organ transplantation.

“Transplant pharmacists play a critical role on interdisciplinary teams caring for transplant patients. In addition to assuming the role of the medication expert, transplant pharmacists are becoming more involved with patient care,” Naif said.

“These pharmacists are with the patient before receiving transplant, during the acute care phase and post-transplant. You really establish a special bond with the patient and that patient-pharmacist relationship is one of the many reasons why I became interested in transplant pharmacy.”

“The Solid Organ Transplant Interest Group broadens student pharmacist’s knowledge about the field of transplant and this special patient population,” Ochotny said. “Our group works through patient cases, conducts journal clubs and holds topic discussions on topics such as organ allocation.”

The group also aims to raise awareness of organ donation, Ochotny said.

“Over 120,000 men, women and children are currently awaiting organ transplants to save their lives,” Ochotny said. “You can register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, because you have the power to donate such a special gift: life.”

“Interest groups continue to validate that pharmacy plays an integral part in patient care,” said Kevin B. Sneed, PharmD, professor and dean of the USF College of Pharmacy. “Clearly, the next generation of pharmacists who have lived the interprofessional education at a very high level in our program and have taken active roles in groups like this will do well in tomorrow’s healthcare teams.”

Wondering just how special organ donations can be? Just ask Ala Ahmad, MD, a fellow in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.

Dr. Ahmad was in medical school when he was diagnosed with renal failure and needed a kidney transplant. The lifesaving gift was a possibility for Dr. Ahmad because of the national registry and meant he could fulfill his dream of becoming a physician.

“I was given a second chance at life and I’m thankful every day for that,” Dr. Ahmad said. “And the pharmacists helped me a lot along the way. Even today, I have a strong relationship with my pharmacist and, because I’ll need medication forever, I will for the rest of my life.”

For more information about the group or how to become an organ donor, please contact Misty Ochotny at or visit

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