I am NOT having a transplant. A friend thought I should make that clear. But I am interested in this and, you know how sometimes everywhere you look, you see references to something you’d never noticed before? That’s happening to me now concerning transplants. And I want to get the word out!
In early November I went to an orientation for patients who may be receiving a liver transplant. I learned that:
- Liver transplants are the most involved and difficult of all transplant operations
- The liver is responsible for over 300 functions in our bodies
- Patients are often called in for a transplant, only to have to go home again because of problems regarding the donor liver
- Sometimes the donor is kept alive when the brain is dead until recipients for all the available organs are found
- Even someone my age has organs that are desirable for harvesting, which would then (more than likely) be transplanted into someone near the age of the donor
- One has to be available to arrive at the transplant center within 6 hours of notice
- Patients return for appointments twice weekly for three months while medications are tweaked, then less frequently, but always for life
- Medications to suppress the immune system can cost thousands of dollars per month and will be continued for life
- Patients are put through a full battery of testing to determine whether they are good candidates for transplant: heart function, kidney function, lung function, 26 vials of blood are taken for all the typing/testing that is done
- After transplant, 50% of patients return to surgery because of a problem
- With all that, transplant enables the patient to lead a better life, perhaps for as long as 10-20 years or more. On the news recently there was a woman who had received a heart transplant back in the 80s from a 12 year old boy. She’s still going strong! She was featured because she always chooses an angel from the Angel Tree every year to honor the donor of her heart.
Most states have a donor sign-up number and/or website. Please consider doing that. After my orientation, I signed up myself, something I’d been intending to do for years. There are WAY more sick people who need transplants than there are donors. I saw some really sick people who really need a transplant. I talked to a woman whose brother’s skin alone was used to help 15 people! On the donor sign-up site here in Texas, you can make a choice about which organs may be harvested, or you can check one box that allows all organs to be harvested. I chose “all” and told my kids they can cremate what’s left! Because organs need to be used quickly, states are members of regional groups—I think. That facilitates getting organs to various locations in a timely manner. There are other sites with transplant information, but that’s for another day. The American Liver Foundation is here. And, if you care about such things, a list can be found here of costs of various transplants and the number of patients waiting. This list happens to be in a story about Arizona and cuts in their Medicaid program, but, oh well….