The transplant chronicles of a journalist, bibliophile, epistemophiliac and homo sapien.
Since arriving in the Pittsburgh area late last summer to get prepared for a double lung transplant and through those interminably long and portentousness days and nights of fall and winter — full up with hope, restless and boredom largely pent away inside myself — the waiting process was beginning to weigh on me as the holidays passed and one year bled into another.
Before Christmas, I learned that a doctor who was crucial to the lung-and-bone-marrow-transplant timelime was going to be away for 10 days and would not be back to town until Jan. 3, so I was taken off the transplant list temporarily, which gave me the chance to check on my place in Tennessee and see family and friends over Christmas and New Year’s. Even so, given my precarious health predicament at the time, I thought I could have ill-afforded to lose the 10 days off the list, but lose them I did.
Then came the second call to the hospital Jan. 6 when I again received notice that the night’s proceedings would not end with a date with my own destiny, but with a trip back home out into the darkness. After sitting around at the hospital most of the day and then well into the night, my parents and I, occupying a small station inside the pre-operational area of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian and surrounded by dangling wires and silent machines, a young fellow at UPMC had the unfortunate task of informing us that the potential donor lungs could not be transplanted because they contained pneumonia and some kind of mass.
Even though I was a little anxious to go under the knife at any time, as most sane people would be, this rejection was a big disappointment because I knew, as I mentioned elsewhere, the clock was ticking on my current medical state. I had been diagnosed with severe pulmonary hypertension a full 1 1/2 years before this night, and hearts can only handle the pressure for so long before they simply wear out. Once heart failure develops, a patient’s life expectancy greatly diminishes, and since more than two months had passed between this night and my last call back in October, I was concerned that time was increasingly not on my side if several more weeks or months had passed without finding a potential match.
But three weeks later, the sky above did break …