And so the “transplant evaluation” process starts…

On Tuesday, July 12, I spent the day at Mass General Hospital (MGH) so that I could start the transplant evaluation process. My friend Paula Berger went with me…it’s always good to have someone else there to take notes and ask questions. (Besides, my husband hates doctors. Hates hospitals. Hates needles. Hates sitting around. It was good to leave him home for this pass ;-) )

We arrived at 10:00 am, where I started by getting some blood drawn. 15 vials, to be exact, so that they could check me for a variety of diseases, antibodies, etc. Then they took my vital signs (pulse, blood pressure (which was low), height, and weight). Note to anyone else going through something like this: make sure they take your vitals BEFORE drawing blood. Oh, and make sure you eat something first. While 15 vials really isn’t all that much (not even a half-pint), it’s enough to make you woozy if you haven’t eaten and it will affect your blood pressure reading.

We then sat through a PowerPoint presentation given by the Transplant Coordinator, designed to answer a bunch of questions. They gave me all the paperwork when I first walked in, so by the time we got to this stage, both Paula and I had already read through them. If this had been a conference session, it would have sucked, given that the slides were displayed and then read to us. But we’re not their typical audience, and the slides did have a lot of information. (True to our nature, we pointed out mistakes between the handout and the presentation ;-).)

This presentation covered transplant statistics, donor types, living donor criteria, blood and tissue compatibility issues, the MGH Transplant Team members, recipient requirements (in other words, all the tests I have to take),  nutritional issues, food safety, transplant list placement (people with O+ blood like me typically wait 4-6 years for a cadaver donor kidney once they get on the list), the transplant itself, and follow-up.

Lunch came next, and we went to the Whole Foods Market in the same complex. They had already given me the list of “don’ts” following transplant, so I had salmon and tuna sashimi :-) (Yep, no raw fish following a transplant. Damn.)

And then the meetings started. We started with the team nephrologist (who just happened to be my doctor), a fellow, and a student. Because my doctor knew me, she let the fellow and student take care of this part. Next up was the social worker, the dietician, the finance folks, and finally one of the surgeons. We asked dozens of questions, both of us took copious notes, and we were exhausted when we finally left at 5 pm.

At this point: I have more tests to go through (on August 10 and August 12); it will be awhile until I’m approved; I won’t start looking for a live donor until I’m approved. I’ll have more blog posts on the various meetings, I’ll give you the list of donor criteria, and I’ll tell you why I’m an anomaly :-)

Let me know if you have any specific questions! If I don’t know the answers, I know where to get them :-)

3 Comments

  1. No questions, just continued well-wishing. Enjoy your sushi while you can!

  2. Sounds like a grueling day. Glad you had someone with you to help ask questions/take notes. It really helps…

    Hang in there! Dana

  3. [...] day 1 of my transplant evaluation, Paula and I kept hearing that I was an anomaly. But *why* I was an anomaly…well, it seemed [...]

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