Ready and Waiting
Because we have only one hour to decide if the organ is right for you, including the time it takes to locate you, it is important to be organized and ready to leave as soon as we call.
Here are some steps you can take to make sure you can leave home on a moment's notice:
Pack your Bag
It's a good idea to pack a bag for the hospital in advance. Keep an updated list of all the medications you take. You may want to include personal items such as your toothbrush, comb and brush, a wrap-around bathrobe, slippers, deodorant, and other items that will make your stay more comfortable; paper and pen; reading materials; and a small amount of cash. Please do not bring jewelry, large amounts of cash, numerous credit cards, or anything else of value. You will need a phone card or credit card to make long distance telephone calls while you are in the hospital (unless you call collect). You may also bring and use your own cell phone.
Make two Lists
Make a list of any other items you think you will need after your surgery, and another list of the people who need to be called when your organ becomes available. Tuck both into your bag, and when you check into the hospital, you can give the lists to a loved one, who can bring the items you need and call family and friends.
Have Insurance Handy
Always carry your health insurance card with you. That way you will have it, without searching high and low, when you get the call to come to the hospital.
Plan your Route
If you are driving to the hospital, choose a driver who will be available when the time comes. You may even want to choose another person as a back-up driver. Map out your route to the hospital. Have an alternate route ready in case there are traffic hold-ups or other problems with the roads.
Verify Flights and Airlines
If you are flying to the hospital, know the flight schedules before you get the call to come to the hospital. Verify available flights frequently. Check more than one airline in case there is a delay or cancellation on the airline you plan to use. Make sure you have someone to drive you to the airport on very short notice. Decide ahead of time how you will get from the airport to the hospital - by taxi or rental car?
Consider the Children
If you have children, decide who will care for them when you go to the hospital and during your hospital stay. Talk to them about the plan before you get the call to come in, so they understand what will happen. Our psychologist and social workers can help you talk to your children about transplantation in a way that they will understand and that will be most helpful to them.
Choose a Health Care Proxy
Do you have a health care proxy - a person you have chosen to make decisions about your medical care if you are unable to do so yourself? Think about who you want to choose and then talk to that person in depth. Be sure this trusted person is comfortable with the responsibility and is aware of, and will follow through with, your wishes about your medical care. If you do not already have a health care proxy form on file with the hospital, you can sign one when you arrive for your transplant and give it to your doctors.
When the Call Comes
When our transplant team calls and asks you to come to the hospital:
- Ask about any medications you should take (or not take) before you come to the hospital.
- Don't eat or drink anything after we call you. If you do eat or drink, it could delay the surgery while the anesthesiologists wait for your stomach to empty. Putting you to sleep for surgery with a full stomach is dangerous and is not done except in extreme emergencies.
- Keep in mind that you could possibly be sent home again if the transplant team discovers a problem with the new organ or finds that you have a new medical problem that could affect your transplant success.
- Get to the hospital safely.
The transplant team member who calls will tell you where to go when you get to the hospital.