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Receiving “the call”

The call letting you know that an organ(s) is available for you can come at any time–as early as a few weeks or after months or several years of being on the national waiting list.To ensure that available organs can be considered for you, it’s important to take the following precautions:

  • Answer your phone at all times of day and night, especially if it’s from the hospital.
  • If they call to tell you that an organ is available, you will likely have to stop eating and drinking to get ready for surgery. You may wish to shower or bathe. You may be asked whether you have a cold, cough, fever, or other infection. Your doctor will explain which medications and treatments to stop or continue.
  • You will be asked to go to the hospital within a certain window of time. Plan ahead and have directions to the hospital handy, and find out where to park. When you arrive at the hospital, be ready for medical tests and possibly a long wait for surgery.
  • After receiving the call, contact your support person to make sure he or she can be with you. Your support person can help you contact other close family or friends and take care of children, pets, and other matters such as paying bills.
  • Ask where your caregiver will stay during the surgery.
  • Bring the bag you packed and your insurance card. Your caregiver should also bring his or her packed bag.
  • You may feel a surge of adrenalin, excitement, eagerness, a peaceful state of readiness, or a sense of dread, shock, and disbelief. You may also feel sadness for the family who lost someone at the same moment you are thrilled to receive the gift of life. All of these feelings are normal.
  • It is important to realize that even after you arrive at the hospital, the transplant team may determine that the donor organ is not suitable. While this can be very disappointing, remember that sometimes this cannot be determined until the last minute, and the transplant team is committed to giving you the best possible outcome.

    Kelly Moorman, kidney/pancreas recipient

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