When a transplant surgeon is holding a conversation with a patient who requires an organ transplant, there is one topic that usually attracts more questions. It is the timing of that all important phone call that will be made to the patient with the offer of the donor organ. Can you imagine what it must be like to be listed for a transplant and waiting for that call day after day, week after week?
The conversation often goes like this-
Q: So doctor, when will I get the phone call [about the donor organ being available]?
A: You can get the call any time of the day or night, week day or weekend. So even in the middle of the night it is important to answer the phone.
Q: Why is that?
A: Well, first because the deceased organ donors can be identified at any time in the hospitals. Second, there is a need to track down all of the potential recipients of the organs from each donor, as there are time limits once the organ donation process is underway.
Q: So when I receive the call, do I need to hurry to hospital?
A: Yes, you do need to make your way to hospital reasonably quickly, but also safely. This is so you can be prepared for the surgery. If you live a long distance from hospital, special arrangements may need to be made to get you there in time.
Q: After I get to hospital, when do I know the transplant is definitely going ahead?
A: Once the organ you require has been surgically retrieved from the donor and is cleared to be suitable for transplant, you will be told. The organ often also has to be transported to the hospital as well.
Explaining what is actually involved in the process for obtaining the organ from the organ donor through to commencing the actual transplant surgical procedure is important. The journey to a transplant can be tough on potential recipients and their loved ones. Some descriptions of this journey can be obtained via the Organtransplants web site.
It takes good co-ordination for the available organs from every deceased donor to be successfully transplanted. Time is often of the essence once the organs have been surgically removed from the donor, due to limits on storage times of the organs. In many countries this co-ordination is achieved by agencies and or networks of professionals. Further information on this part of the process can be obtained via professional sources including from the United States and the United Kingdom
Some other general web sites which provide information are-
Transplant Living , OrganTransplants Understanding , United Kingdom
If you or a loved one are waiting for an organ transplant, it is best to seek advice from the professionals in the Transplant Programme that you are in contact with.