transplant, put them in touch with Florida Hospital/Orlando.
Friday night, June 15th. my wife and I had gone to dinner with friends. En route home, since we were leaving very early Saturday morning to attend a meeting in New York City, we decided it best to gas up.
While at the pump, my cell phone started to ring. At first I thought, give me a break, it’s 10PM of Friday, I’m going to let it go to voicemail. But it almost was an unusual ring – it wasn’t – so I answered it. A woman identified herself as Colleen from Florida Hospital stating that they may have a matching kidney for me (I needed a kidney transplant). She asked if I would be willing to catch the first flight to Orlando the next morning. I didn’t give it a second thought: I said sure. Coleen added that she would give me a confirming call sometime during the night.
We went home. Cancelled our New York trip. And I immediately packed a quick overnight suitcase to prepare for my early flight to Orlando. (I should add that I am extremely fortunate because I have a son who lives in Orlando who was able to meet me at the plane and get me right to the hospital.)
During the night Colleen called and told me that they were still trying to make compatibility matches for “my” new kidney. My last call from Coleen came at 4:30AM who still could not confirm that they had a compatible kidney but she left the decision in my hands as to whether or not to take the first morning flight to Orlando or not. I told her I would be there by 9:30.
Like clockwork we arrived at the airport by 5AM for my 6AM flight to Orlando. When we arrived at the Southwest ticket counter to purchase my ticket, my wife had already started to cry. I explained to the ticket agent that I was flying to Orlando for a kidney transplant and my wife would be following on a flight on Monday afternoon as that was her lest day as a teacher for the school year. The agent asked her if she would like to accompany me to the gate are which would involve going through security. She jumped at the chance. While in line for security our daughter called from Baltimore and I explained that we were in line that mom would be accompanying me to the gate. My daughter, as pithy as ever asked me “What, are you five years old?” I then looked at my wife’s boarding pass to get her through security and it stated that she was with a passenger needing assistance to board the plane. (It was a humorous moment in an otherwise tense situation.)
The flight to Orlando was uneventful.
My son immediately Picked me up at the airport and we quickly drove to Florida Hospital. When I arrived, I was whisked off to the surgery prep area. The most difficult thing I had to face at that point was getting my wedding band off my finger prior to surgery. Since it had been on my finger for over 34 years, it was impossible to remove it using the usual techniques of soap or trying to yank it off. It had to be cut off…even at that, it was not easy.
Don’t recall much else except going to recovery after surgery and then to the ICU.
My wife flew down on Monday afternoon.
Another son drove down to Florida from Rhode Island after stopping in Baltimore to pick up his sister…yup the pithy one. He did this to provide us with our car during my 3 month recovery as well as bring down my lifeline: my computer.
Today the kidney transplant operation has been perfected to such a degree that for the kidney recipient it’s usually a 4 to 6 day hospital stay and then they are sent home with their new addition. It did not work out this way for me. I was in the ICU for 11 of my 13 day hospital stay.
I can’t say enough about the Florida Hospital/Orlando transplant team: surgeons, doctors, nurses, support staff, etc. Not only are they experts at what they do but they have a care factor bigger than the state of Montana.
If you know of anyone in need of a transplant, put them in touch with Florida Hospital/Orlando.