Wednesday was my initial screening with the Yale Transplant Center at Yale New Haven Hospital. Meg accompanied me for this very long and somewhat overwhelming experience. We got there around 7:30 AM and it lasted until just after 3:00 PM. It included an initial check of height, weight and blood pressure, which was cooperating and came in at 108/60 this morning :). Then we were in a conference room for about two hours for presentations by a surgeon, the insurance counselor, the dietician and then the pharmacist. Then we had individual meetings with a social worker, the dietician, a doctor (just an MD not a Transplant surgeon), and the pharmacist to review what medications I am currently on and what would change post transplant. Then I had a blood draw. On the best of days this does not go well from my end. Three different nurses tried to find a vein and failed. So they sent me on to the Kidney/Gallbladder ultrasound, while they called in a nurse from the ER to draw my blood. In the end it was only two needle sticks and they got the blood – all 15 vials – a record draw for me. Meanwhile Meg met with a Doctor about becoming a donor so she had to have some of the initial screening (height, weight and blood pressure). After then waiting for a while we were sent to a different floor for more blood draws for both of us and an EKG for me. I got stuck twice more and eventually they did the draw from the back of my wrist (OUCH!). I still don’t know why they needed more blood or why they didn’t take it earlier when they had me tapped! After this I had a final chest X-ray and we finally were dismissed.
We learned a lot about the Transplant process. The difference between having a living donor kidney as opposed to waiting for a kidney from the transplant list. The improvement you can expect from a new kidney vs. living on dialysis, looking forward to experiencing this! They also discussed at length in both the group sessions and the individual meetings, that the current health of the potential donor is very important and can prevent a good match from being a donor. We also learned some of the finances of this and how I now need to apply for medicare now rather than waiting the 30 months. I also learned that while my BMI (Body Mass Index) is low enough to go on the transplant list it is not now low enough to do the actual transplant so I have to drop about 20 lbs. to get my BMI to where they want it. BMI is also important to the donor as well. We also learned about Living Donor Kidney Exchange where someone wants to donate a kidney to their loved one but it isn’t a match. They can try to find a match for that Kidney and in the process look for a kidney that would be a match. It sounds convoluted but they say it happens all the time.
Overall the visit went well. I still have some more things to get done and more of my regular doctors need to sign off on this but we are moving forward with this process. I have to get the results to Yale from my most recent colonoscopy, stress test, thyroid ultra sound and some other tests. It is not going to happen tomorrow but I am gaining confidence in the transplant procedure and hope to make it happen.