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Nymuso 01-20-2020 07:01 AM

An Organ Donation Story
I don't post much anymore for various reasons, but wanted to share this.

I'm a retired CRNA, an anesthetist. At our hospital one of the things we did was organ harvestings, usually after hours. The harvest team would fly in from where ever but we sometimes provided the anesthesia support, which basically consisted of keeping the organs perfused and oxygenated until they were removed, the patient having previously been declared brain dead. We didn't do many of these and I only had to do one

They were there for the kidneys. Once they were removed some members of the team packed them into a cooler and hurried off for a waiting flight. The surgeon then poured a bucket of ice into the open cavity and told me to turn off the O2 and stop ventilations.

This was the hardest thing I ever had to do I hadn't been trained for this or even oriented to it. I knew it was legal, moral and inevitable, but it just felt, well, wrong for lack of a better word. I don't know what executioners feel but I was pretty sure I was feeling something close to it. We watched the cardiac monitor until activity ceased. He then thanked me, told me to turn everything off and asked me to leave. And that was that. Except for the feeling.

I recently learned that a guy I know, a bass player from another band needed a liver transplant. One of the members of that band stopped in at our gig the other night and told us that after several false starts, our friend had gotten his transplant and was doing well. Great news! My mind immediately flashed back all those years to having to turn off the O2 at 3 AM and watch the monitor fade. And I felt better about things. Yes, sorry for the person who no longer needed the liver, for his or her family and for the person who had to turn off the O2, but good that my friend would have a chance at more life. I got to see the outcome of the story.

I ask everyone who reads this to sign their donor cards.

raysachs 01-20-2020 07:15 AM

I'm a donor. I can only imagine, and not really, how you must be feeling. I think the closest thing most of us non-docs ever get to that is if you have to make a decision to end the life of a pet. I've only had to do that once, with out little dog almost four years ago. And it destroyed me.

When my folks died, they made the key decisions when they were still able to. I just had to help express their wishes to the medical folks, but the hard decisions weren't on me and my folks were basically sentient and fairly lucid right up to the last day or so. But having to decide to have our dog put down, a decision she had absolutely no role in, no input in, didn't have any idea about - THAT just ripped me to shreds. My wife too. It was clearly the right decision - she was more than ready. Her life had become almost nothing but pain and anxiety. But it was horrible.

I'm sure that's not even close to taking a similar action for a human being. I can't imagine. Ultimately, you know you did the right thing. But I'm sure that doesn't make it any easier...


joe white 01-20-2020 12:11 PM

This reminds me of a recent donor dealing. I got a call from an EMT a couple days after Christmas 2018. My 78 year old father had been in a minor auto accident (car was seen drifting into a fire hydrant and the air bags weren't even deployed so it was a low speed impact) and my father was unresponsive at the scene. The EMTs administered CPR and regained a pulse. After a long day in the ER, I was able to see him but he was still unresponsive. The whole staff was very compassionate and honest and made me aware that most likely, my Dad would not "wake" from this. After a few days and several tests and attempts to find something positive I was told that I would be asked to discontinue life support soon. Again, they were as compassionate and kind as could be while also being pointedly honest. After consulting with my sister that lived several hours away, I made the call on new years day, 2019 that I never realized would be so difficult. It still bothers me to this day. Not even an hour after this transpired I received a call from the Indiana Donor Network about possible donor options. I was a little offended at first and I even thought this was some twisted and cruel scam of some sorts but with my wife's help we were able to verify that indeed, this was a legitimate and well respected organization.

My Dad was not a donor, at least not in the sense that he had authorization on his license but he knew that I was and we had talked several times about how it can be a good thing and he agreed that helping someone in need with our "parts" after we pass is a positive thing. I was most apprehensive about it because my father was so old. I even asked administrator that called me how much good a 78 year old man could be and she explained to me how there are many things like bone marrow and such that can be very helpful. So again, after a conversation with my sister we agreed to it. They handled everything from there on out and even transported my father to the crematorium of our choice.

I still get literature and cards of thanks from the Donor Network, they sent us a nice medal to honor my father as well and posted his name along with others that had donated that year at various hospitals.

I apologize for such a long post but I really have not talked about this with anyone so I guess I had a story to share and to bring all this to relevance, I do slightly understand how difficult that had to be for you Nymuso.

Glennwillow 01-20-2020 08:23 PM

Thank you all for the above posts. Really thought provoking stuff.

- Glenn

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