The Triton


Living organ donation an option for captain


By Dorie Cox

Capt. Neil Emmott has dealt with many challenges during his yachting career but now he faces a personal one, end-stage renal disease. This stage of chronic kidney disease can cause the kidneys to permanently fail.

But decades of work on yachts, including the 173-foot Swedeship M/Y Passion, the 164-foot Elsflether M/Y Hanse, the 164-foot Amels M/Y Thunder Gulch, the 151-foot Palmer Johnson M/Y Turmoil, and the 118-foot Perini Navi S/Y Gitana have connected him with people around the globe who are spreading the word about a good option, live organ donation.

Live organ donation is an alternative for patients on the waiting list for an organ from a deceased donor. Volunteers who wish to help someone in need of an organ, such as Capt. Emmott, can apply to donate a kidney or a portion of lung, liver, pancreas, or intestine.

“Neil is already listed on the deceased donor list, which can mean a wait up to seven years,” said his wife, Lisa, a former chief stew. “But his health will deteriorate during that time.”

She and Capt. Emmott’s brother applied to donate a kidney but were not matches. That is when they decided to broaden their reach.

“We went public with this about three or four weeks ago,” she said.

Since then the family has heard from colleagues and friends on nearly every continent.

Capt. Neil and Lisa Emmott with their two daughters in a recent family photo. Photo by

And there are many. The couple worked together on several yachts until the birth of the oldest of their two daughters in 2005. Since then he has been captain and shore manager for M/Y Passion.

“Neil said his faith in humanity is restored,” she said.

Typically more private with personal information, this has been a big change.

“My cloak of secrecy was ripped off me,” Capt. Emmott said.

Although her husband is her priority, Mrs. Emmott hopes that by talking and posting online, more people in need of organs find donors.

“I’m humbled by the response and hope that people think about donating to others,” Capt. Emmott said.

“I want to promote living organ donations, to make people think and have conversation about this,” Mrs. Emmott said. “My hope is, because we have come out of the woodwork, that others will ask about the process. The No. 1 reason people don’t ask is because it is awkward.”

This process is not for everyone, she said.

“It is a very big decision with a lot to consider, but it is right for some people,” she said. “Some good may come from this.”

Meanwhile, Capt. Emmott agreed and said positive things have happened.

“A silver lining in the process is that a number of friends who wanted to be considered have learned that they have undetected high blood pressure which has disqualified them as donors,” he said. “It is a treatable condition and has encouraged them to choose a healthier lifestyle.”

He knows the importance of his own health.

“I don’t waste a single hour of my day on what’s going to happen,” Capt. Emmott said. “I’m going to have a good outcome. Stepping stones have popped up wherever I looked.”

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at

Press release from friends:

Capt. Neil Emmott has been a captain in our industry for over 25 years and has been vital to the yachting industry at large. Could you please share this information with family, friends, churches, colleagues and anyone you can think of to help spread the word and find a donor for this lovely man? He has been a vital part of our industry and is a wonderful person and sadly just found out his prognosis: he has developed end-stage renal disease which is the last and most serious stage (stage 5) of chronic kidney disease which causes the kidneys to permanently fail.

He needs a kidney transplant ASAP and is looking for donors. Please find it in your heart to share this news with as many people as you can to help him reach as many people as possible in order to find a suitable donor who matches the criteria needed to help save a life. Additionally, Neil’s wife, Lisa, has been through the donor process, and she is more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Lisa can be reached at or 954-205-0067.

Click to learn more about him and his family and their situation here and share this too:

Click to see CaringBridge page dedicated by the family to finding him a donor:

Please share and help this captain know how supportive our industry is to one another. Your share could help start a conversation that can save a life. I hope that his story will touch someone who may be interested in learning more about becoming a donor for Neil or for another person in need of an organ transplant. Lisa and Neil would like to thank everyone for their help in raising awareness about becoming an organ donor.


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About Dorie Cox

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton.

View all posts by Dorie Cox →

One thought on “Living organ donation an option for captain

  1. Lisa Emmott

    I wanted to follow up with you regarding the article you wrote about my husband’s need for a kidney donor [“Living organ donation an option for captain,” June issue] in the hopes that our story may help and inspire others in need.
    As a summary, after an 18-month exhaustive process, Neil received a kidney transplant from a living donor (Britani) by way of a paired kidney exchange at the end of September 2017 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.
    Briefly, a “paired kidney exchange” is one of the greatest medical milestones in the transplant world. This type of living kidney donation is also known as a “kidney swap” and occurs when a living donor is not the best match with his/her recipient. A mismatched recipient and his paired donor exchange kidneys with another donor/recipient pair. The program allows for a recipient to receive a better-matched kidney and, in turn, helps other individuals who are also waiting for a matched donor. For Neil’s specific case, donors and recipients had surgery all over the country at various transplant centers, and kidneys were flown to and from California, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
    Neil and his paired exchange donor (Britani) both experienced textbook-perfect recoveries, and they continue to do well. Another friend (Allison, who had also wanted to donate in a paired exchange for Neil) proceeded with an altruistic kidney donation to a stranger after Neil was successfully transplanted. WOW. She donated her kidney to an anonymous recipient in California. Allison’s altruistic donation will ultimately benefit an anonymous child awaiting a 2nd kidney transplant.
    “Asking for a kidney” was unchartered territory for us, and my husband is extremely private. Once I convinced him to break free from being a hostage to privacy, we were floored by the goodwill that came our way, with an abundance of potential donors (ranging from close friends to total strangers on four continents) enrolling at his transplant center to donate a kidney to him. One very private man needed a kidney and didn’t want to ask a single soul. But, by going public, eight people have received new kidneys due to the paired exchange program. If you also consider those waiting for a kidney on the deceased donor list, there are also now eight people who will “move up” on the list and receive a new kidney much faster.
    My mission now is to help others waiting for a kidney find smiles and success just as we did. I will never be able to donate a kidney, so I will fervently donate my passion and my voice to raising awareness about living kidney donation. It’s a HUGE leap of faith to step outside your comfort zone and ask the world for a kidney. However, the journey is worth the jump.
    Our young daughters and I are filled with gratitude.
    Lisa Emmott

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