We matched, but not well enough. It would be possible for me to donate to my husband, but it wouldn't be ideal since his blood reacted to the antigens in mine and that would have to be managed by medication and/or plasmapheresis, a "washing" of the blood to remove antibodies. Either of these apparently would increase rejection risk and higher doses of the anti-rejection medications would be harder to tolerate. All that meant we would likely go into an exchange pool and see if we matched others needing kidneys or other living donor volunteers. This would increase the waiting time. After almost two years of Pat being on the transplant list for a deceased donor with no results, further waiting was not what we were looking for.
Then I received a call from the Transplant Donor Nurse asking if we would like to participate in a local exchange. They had another two people in the Seattle area who were in the same boat as we were and who might be matches. We would cross match blood with them and hope for the best. We got a call that those matches were perfect; I matched the kidney patient and their donor matched Pat. In fact, we were told that when the results came in they were so good "the doctors cheered." Now were were talking!
I received this information in late summer. We still don't know who these other people are or how (if) they're related to one another. Privacy issues, you know. I hope we'll get to meet them in the hospital, but who knows? In any case, their donor hadn't finished all of the screening yet, and he/she was officially cleared to donate in September. So let's get going, right?
Wrong. The wheels of big hospitals turn very slowly. The transplant team wanted to do all four surgeries at once in their hospital. Apparently this hasn't been done before at the University of Washington and they were very excited to do it. The scheduling powers-that-be for the operating rooms didn't seem to be as excited. We were told that things were busy in October, the holidays were coming, and the surgeries would be done after the first of the year. Ok, we accepted that and decided to come to our place in Palm Desert for a couple of months. We drove down around the first of November. We expected to receive word with our surgery schedule within a short time.
The days went by. I checked in every week or so and was told that the scheduling person was out, there was no word yet, the surgeon would check into it, etc., etc. I deal with the donor side of the transplant department and Pat deals with the patient side. They all meet together every week, though, so everybody knows what's going on. After a few weeks of this non-information, Pat got on the phone and raised a little ruckus. After all, he's the one who's life is on hold while he's tortured at dialysis three times a week. How could this be all set up and yet going nowhere after all these weeks?
So last week we got our schedule. We have to be in Seattle next Monday for pre-op appointments and surgery is scheduled for January 4th. Due to the holidays, they won't do the usual Monday pre-op and Wednesday surgery, so we are scrambling around to get our place closed up and drive home in time for the first appointments. Then we'll be home in the cold and rain to wait two weeks for the surgery, but at least we have a date! We leave tomorrow morning to drive to Vegas to see our kids, then will head home Saturday morning and hope not to run into too much snow on the way north.
Fingers are crossed for a smooth trip home. All good thoughts and prayers for getting us through this whole experience are gratefully accepted. More later!