Support for those waiting for transplants
I am a retired Cardiovascular Perfusionist and have years of experience with heart ,liver and kidney transplants. I also am an Ambassador of Hope for LifeGift. I would be happy to answer any questions you have.
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Transplants Support Group.
I have a few questions for you but first I want to make sure I understand your role in the process. I do not have a medical background, but after all the doctoring I've had I think they should award me some kind of certificate or frequent flyer card (who's with me?). Are you the person on the surgical team who keeps everything going while our internal systems are bypassed during surgery or I'm I way off base?
Hi @susanjc, welcome to the Transplants group.
Jolinda, I found this description of the cardiovascular perfusionist's role and training. https://www.uhn.ca/healthcareprofessionals/Meet_Professions/Cardiovascular_Perfusionists
Susan, would you say the description is accurate? What did you like most about your job?
Yes I believe the description to be accurate. There are schools throughout the United States. I trained at Texas Heart Institute in Houston under Dr. Cooley. The part of my job I enjoyed the most was the teamwork required for a procedure to take place. We all depended on one another for things to have the best outcome.
Coleen – thanks for finding the description. 🙂
First off, thank you for dedicating your career to helping so many people make it through their surgeries. I can't help but imagine the pressure of having to perform your duties perfectly each and every time. There must be hundreds of people our enjoying their lives today based on your life's work. Well done!
I am interested if you are able to explain in general terms what the physical strain of surgery is like on our bodies. The surgery I had lasted between 6 and 8 hours, was my body oblivious to the strain because I was under sedation or was it running a marathon that I just can't remember?
Jolinda what type of transplant did you have?
I had a living donor kidney transplant with a simultaneous bilateral native nephrectomy. My native kidneys were ravaged by Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) and had adhered themselves to the surfaces within the abdomen, which is partially why it required so much time and skill of the surgeon. After the large (over 20lb) kidneys were removed it was also necessary to reposition the organs that had been displaced by the kidneys. Um…TMI? I know there must have been someone with your level of skill in the O.R. making sure I was safe through it all. I have often wondered if my heart, lungs etc. worked extra hard during all of that or just took a nap. I feel fortunate that you've made yourself available so that I am able to understand this better.
Yes you were comfortable and taking a good nap throughout the removal and transplantation of your kidneys. Anesthesiologists monitor your brain waves, heart function and lungs. After you go to sleep even your eyes are protected by taping them shut. After the transplant of the donated kidneys is complete clamps are released and the color slowly returns to the kidney and it begins it's job of producing urine. Hope this little bit of information helps. Have you ever considered being a volunteer for LiftGift? Sharing your story and helping those beginning theirs would certainly help a lot of people. If you want information let me know.
@susanjc – I never even thought about this aspect of the surgery before. Thank you Jolinda for posing the question.
I had a simultaneous liver and kidney transplant (2 organs, 1 donor, 1 surgery). Before my surgery I had 1 last dialysis treatment, and was visited by my surgeon and by my anesthesiologist. I felt gratitude for their words of reassurance as they told me what they would be doing during the procedure. I remain thankful for the skill and the dedication of each and every member of my transplant team. My organs both began to work immediately, and I will always remember when one of my sons called out, in the recovery room, "Mom! Your're not yellow anymore!".
Thank you, Susan, for what you have shared here and for the lives that you have touched.
What led you to – or interested you in this area of medicine?
Thanks for the great information!
I have continually talked to people over the years, sometimes even getting calls from people I don't even know to talk about all things transplant. I'm happy to share any info I can about my own journey so that others may find hope and comfort in my healthy outcome. My donor (Dawn) and I have given talks to groups and we will be speaking next month at the LifeSource Center in Minneapolis. Please send me a PM with more info on LifeGift and how I might be able to help spread hope.
Wonderful. I am sure I will have questions possibly in the next couple weeks.