This past week, I got good news – news that I’d been waiting for. It’s been quite a long wait. The news was that I had been given a spot on the New York/Presbyterian/Columbia Hospital’s lung transplant waiting list. I had to “wait” to get on the “waiting” list for over a year. And now...I’ll have to wait some more (lol). I’ll tell you why.
I need a good match
What happens now is a lung must be donated that would be a good “match” for my height, weight – general build. Lungs are donated by individuals in their living wills.
So, unfortunately, there has to be a death generally somewhere nearby, where that individual’s organs are designated for donation to people like me and those in need of heart, liver, and kidney transplants. If a donation has been identified, I have 3 hours maximum to get to the hospital to begin the procedure.
The entire process is exhausting and inspired my writing about feeling like a pincushion after tests and prodding and needles and samples! But in case you’re wondering, there’s terrific information about lung transplants right here on COPD.net.
We have a home
A lot of people have been pulling for me and praying for me. And I am grateful to all. All of this is taking place in the context of the recent pandemic we face. So, we - myself and my family - are being extremely cautious about staying home, wiping, washing. It would be a nightmare to get this far in the transplant process and...
But, as I watch my neighbors from my window, walking about – keep “social distance”, I realize how fortunate my family is. We have a home and can seek sanctuary in it in a time of crisis like this. But there are others, suffering from COPD, who live on the street, or in shelters or in other settings where their health cannot be guaranteed. I think about them in times like these.
Keeping spirits up
But, it’s also important at a time like this to keep spirits up. And that is why when/if my transplant takes place, the first thing I want to do is to take a long walk.
I know...I know...I can walk now, and I do - probably not enough – but I try to go to rehab as often as possible to keep myself (and my lungs) in the best possible shape.
In order to qualify for a transplant, you have to be sick but you can’t be too sick. This kind of situation is often referred to as a “Catch-22.”1 But today, here in the Northeast, it was a terrifically sunny day and despite the Governer’s call for “self-isolation” some families chose to take a walk.
A busy bridge
My wife and I needed to drive into Manhattan today. And there, along the walkways of the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey, there were bicyclists, runners, and just plain old walkers. In fact, I think there were more people on the bridge than there were on the streets of Manhattan itself.
A year ago, if I’d seen all those folks being as active as they were, it would have made me very sad – almost depressed actually – because there was not going to be a time where I might engage in that kind of walking or bicycling.
I can feel the hope
But now, with the possibility (not a promise) of a lung transplant, I can feel the hope. I’m a semi-religious man and I’m praying for all of us with COPD to survive this pandemic and flourish! And I’m also praying that I might get the opportunity – the chance – to take a walk over the George Washington Bridge real soon.
Have you been on the transplant list or received a lung transplant? Tell us about your experience here!
How has your experience been navigating the healthcare system as someone with COPD?