I’ve officially begun the process of getting screened to be a living donor for Ana. The main reason for this is that if Dr. Kato feels that Ana is eligible for ex vivo resection, he’d need a living donor as a “backup liver” in case he goes in and discovers that her liver can’t be saved. The last thing you want to hear a surgeon say is, “We don’t know what we’ll find until we’re actually in there.” And, yes, he actually said that. Good lord, did he get that line straight from an episode of Grey’s Anatomy?
Jim and I both want to do this for Ana, but you can’t get screened at the same time (rules, damn rules). It turns out my blood type is the same as Ana’s (A+). I was able to track this down from my OB/GYN’s office fairly easily. I thought I was A- for some reason so this is a relief, but I think Jim’s blood is also compatible because he is O+.
How did I get here? Four months ago I was school shopping with Ana and looking forward to autumn – a season I completely missed this year. Now I’m getting screened to possibly give her half my liver. I have no doubt that I will do this for Ana, but it’s damn scary when someone suddenly sends you a three page questionnaire trying to gauge the health of your internal organs.
I had to fill out consent forms, a brief medical history and an intake form which makes me feel like a patient even though I’m not sick. In fact, as it turns out, I’m in pretty damn good health (at least, on paper). Thank GOD I have been exercising consistently for the last three years (excluding the last three months). So there’s a lesson learned. Exercise regularly in case you need to give a loved one an organ. The next steps are more clinical.
I need to get an MRI (yes, I do plan to ask for valium), an EKG, an x-ray, lab work and meet with a bunch of physicians and specialists. There is a mandatory 10 day waiting period before I’m cleared to be a donor (assuming all my tests are okay). They’re pretty strict about this because there are lots of legal safe guards in place which are meant to prevent people from being coerced into donating their organs. The liver team that follows Ana wasn’t even allowed to talk to me about it. I will be working with a separate team and they are never allowed to contact me about anything – I have to initiate all of the phone calls.
The process of getting cleared takes about two weeks. I’ll be meeting with all the various players in the game of organ procurement for two separate day-long sessions that promise to be quite grueling. I’ll need to bring a “care partner” with me, which I assume will be Jim.
But for some reason, I want my mommy.
The hospitalization for a surgery like this is 3 to 7 days and the recovery period after surgery is 2 to 3 months. MONTHS! The coordinator warned me that most people are out of work at least that long. I bet that coincides with cycling season too. Ah well. At least I can possibly work from bed. Or maybe I finally have an excuse to get a chaise lounge.
Ana doesn’t want me to do this. She’s worried about me. She wants me to be there with her as she’s going through her own surgery and recovery and I totally get that, but I know some day she’ll understand. I mean, she’s my baby.
What I really want to do is trade places with her and spare her this nightmare. This is the next best thing. She’s not going to have to wait indefinitely for a liver because I won’t let that happen if I can help it.