Last February a very good friend of mine went to Pittsburgh from Texas to support her brother during his surgery. While she was there she met a couple staying at the Family House. She was struck by their patience and faith as they wait for the perfect lungs for John. John is not even 60 years old and needs a double lung transplant. His wife, Helen had to return to Missouri to work since he is on her insurance plan. Dan and Eric are their sons who are also involved in taking care of John.
Yesterday my friend asked for prayers for John and Helen, that people be aware of the importance of saying yes! to organ donation. She shared this update from Helen:
“Well, this week John begins his 12th week at the Hospital.He is STILL waiting for his lung transplant. We know it will happen, I have to be patient.John has had three no-go’s. The first set of lungs had pneumonia and the second and third were too big. John needs size small (not average) lungs, type 0, and there has to be matches.I was with John for eight weeks, and with the approval of the floor nurse practitioners, I went back home and back to work because I will return for at least a month when John gets his lungs. I will be with him until he is able to go to the Family House. I will get him set up and Dan will take care of John this summer. Eric is currently in Pittsburgh with John. This has helped John’s spirit.”
I know from experience how hard it is to be a caregiver and wait, wait and pray for organs to become available. You feel so guilty knowing someone has to die for your loved one to live. As I have written before, a wise transplant professional told me, “you are not praying for someone to die. You are praying that when someone dies who can donate organs, that his/her family will say yes to organ donation.”
I continually pray for those on the transplant waiting list. But this morning, because my friend asked, I am praying specifically for John, Helen, Dan and Eric. I pray that their faith and hope remain strong. I pray they are comforted in the arms of the Lord. I pray for the skills of the doctors and nurses helping them. I pray that families who experience tragic deaths of their loved ones say yes to organ donation when they are asked. I pray for comfort for their grief. I pray for the empathy and skill of the transplant coordinator who is the one to talk with the family about organ donation. I pray that people will become aware of the need for organ donation and they will register their intent, and most importantly they will share that end-of-life decision with their families and friends. I pray for the skill of the transplant surgeons when lungs become available.
Will you join me in this prayer?
I don’t know very much about lung transplant. I have personally met three people who have received lung transplants and it is miraculous how their health is turned around!
Whenever I am aware of a specific person waiting for an organ at a particular transplant center, I look up data about that on HRSA’s Organ Procurement & Transplantation Network site. Nationally, there are 1,647 people waiting for lungs right now and 52 waiting for heart and lung transplant. “According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) the patient survival rates for all patients that had a lung transplant are 85% at one month, 69% at one year, and 51% at three years for patients transplanted.” The average waiting time overall is 18 months.
Below is the current waiting data for lungs by hospital in Pennsylvania. Every one of those numbers is a PERSON with a FAMILY who are waiting, waiting, waiting. Can you imagine how hard it is to wonder each day whether or not you are going to make it? Praying for someone to say YES to organ donation? How hard it is to watch your loved one struggle, to get more and more sick with so very little you can do about it?