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Kingston, Massachusetts, United States

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 22, 2011

Getting the call.  As far as I know, there are two ways of anticipating the call that you have a donor ready to give you a kidney – the first is a call from the hospital telling you that a kidney became available due to an unfortunate circumstance, and the second is a call from the hospital telling you that they have a living donor and they want to schedule a date for the surgery.

In the first instance, unfortunately someone has to die in order for you to live.  Typically this is the case for those waiting for a heart transplant.  Although, there are instances of using a mechanical heart…but from what I understand, those instances are few and far between.

As it was explained to me by a surgeon at the hospital, when a non-living (or cadaveric) kidney becomes available, it is never planned and it could come from anywhere and not necessarily in the same city you are in.  As it was explained, the surgeon will get a call from the hospital where the cadaveric organ is and from this conversation determine if it is worth pursuing.  Meaning, if the deceased patient was, for example, in their mid-20’s and in fairly good condition as opposed to being in their 70’s and smoked all of their life.

Once the surgeon has the details on the deceased patient and the organ to be transplanted, he said that he would then call me and together we would make a determination if we wanted to accept the organ, ultimately leaving it in my hands to decide.  If the decision was to accept the organ, then the surgeon would arrange to get the organ to the hospital, and I would head to the hospital and be prepped for surgery.

Although it is still conceivable that I could get a call from the hospital for a cadaveric kidney (and possible pancreas)…it would have to be a perfect match to be considered by the surgeon.  Which leaves me to waiting for the call in the other scenario – having a possible living donor.

I just received that call.  Tommy completed his work-up a week or so ago and the case went to the transplant committee, who ultimately gave the green light for the surgery to occur.

Now that a date is being scheduled, it is all real.  Not that it wasn’t real before, but it is really real now.  I am excited and nervous at the same time.  The anxiety of whether or not Tommy would be accepted as a donor, and ultimately whether or not to have to start the whole process over again, is gone. 

With that anxiety gone, anticipation for the actual surgery has taken over.  I think I have done my due diligence in terms of educating myself about the surgery and all that goes with it (although with all of the research that you do beforehand, you are bound to miss a few things here and there.  There has been one site in particular that has been a tremendous help…and that is www.patientslikeme.com .  Here I have been able to talk to others that have gone through this already and those that are like me, waiting.  I would encourage anyone, either pre or post transplant to check out the site, it is a fantastic resource.

I would love to hear from others on the call that they received and what went through their minds when they got that call.

Also as a follow-up to the entry I did on dialysis, Cora had this to say, “Please don't forget about peritoneal dialysis. It is an excellent alternative to hemo and is much more commonly used here in Canada (invented here too). Life is much easier as you can remain in your home, often do it while you sleep, it is easier on your body (especially heart and circulatory system), and the diet is much less restrictive than that on hemo. If your doc hasn't mentioned it, ask. It's worth looking into.


  1. I'm so glad to hear that your donor has worked out. I got a call just after Labor day that my cousin was accepted and that the date was Oct 3rd. It was funny because that was her birthday and I had a dream that that would be the date. When she told them it was her "special" day they offered to change it, but since they couldn't do it sooner, she decided to keep it. So we now share a birth (in my case, re-birth) day.

    As for my pancreas, I finally got the organ on the 4th call. The first one turned out to be too fatty. I made one aborted trip to the center (I live a ways away and so they didn't call me unless they were fairly sure) but the same thing happened. I had one sort of offer (not really, just feeling me out if it was a possibility) where the potential donor had a girlfriend who admitted to sharing needles with him twice. He wasn't from a large urban area and if I had needed a heart or a liver I might have gone for it, but not for a pancreas.

    Don't be afraid to get picky with the organs. You don't want an older pancreas and have it poop out. It won't affect your position on the list.

    Again, congratulations. I'm sure everything will go smoothly.


  2. This is great news, Michael. Do you have a date for surgery yet? Best wishes for a great outcome. I am waiting to find out what the transplant committee will say on April 7th. I appreciate the link you provided and will check it out.
    Cindy (from KidneySpace)