After a seemingly endless series of skirmishes with Murphy’s Law, Mrs. T was finally bundled into an ambulance on Tuesday night and shipped from the University of Connecticut Health Center to New York-Presbyterian, the upper Manhattan hospital where she will ultimately receive a double lung transplant.
I beat her to New York by about twenty minutes, unloaded the one-way rental car (thank you, Hertz) that I used to drive from point A to point B, and fell gratefully into bed. It is, I suppose, possible to be more tired than I was, but I don’t see how, though several more hours went by before I finally grew sleepy enough to shut down my MacBook and put out the light, muttering a grumpy string of variations on “Tomorrow is another day!” as I did so.
So…now what? Quite a few of my readers seem to have picked up the mistaken notion that Mrs. T was rushed back to New York after getting the Big Call, and that she’ll be going under the knife any minute now. Would that it were so! She is, to be sure, “ripe” for transplant, as her doctors put it, but to date Mrs. T has yet to receive an organ offer. Instead, she was sent back to New York as a precaution—albeit an urgent one.When you’re in the end stage of pulmonary hypertension, the rare and deadly disease that has laid Mrs. T low, the right ventricle of your heart can start to “decompensate” at any time without much advance warning. Once that happens, you need to be transplanted on the double. If you’re not near a transplant center when it happens—and UConn, the center for her pulmonary-hypertension care, doesn’t do lung transplants—then you’re out of luck. It hasn’t happened to Mrs. T—yet—but the oxygen-related crises that have beset her with increasing frequency in recent weeks suggest that her right ventricle is starting at long last to wear out. For this reason, her doctors in New York and Connecticut agreed yesterday that it was essential to get Mrs. T to New York-Presbyterian, her transplant center, as soon as possible, there to await surgery.
What happens next depends on when—and if—a pair of suitable lungs becomes available. As I’ve previously written in this space:
Would that there were enough donor lungs to go around! But there aren’t, which is the reason for the organ allocation list, which divvys up donor organs in the United States according to a complex formula that weighs the comparative needs of their potential recipients. For the past month or so, Mrs. T’s allocation “score” has been hovering above 50 (out of 100). This means she’s sick enough to start receiving organ offers as soon as a suitable pair of lungs becomes available—so long as it isn’t equally suitable to someone who outscores her.
Our hope is that the events of the past week will increase her score significantly. We’ll learn more about that in the next couple of days. In the meantime…we wait.
For now, Mrs. T will be waiting for the Big Call in New York-Presbyterian’s ICU. Should her condition stabilize sufficiently to send her back home to our New York apartment, which is thirteen blocks north of the hospital, she’ll wait there. Either way, she isn’t going anywhere else. Mrs. T is now extremely frail and needs an abundance of loving care, which I’m doing all I can to supply. No matter what happens, though, we won’t be returning to Connecticut any time soon. Barring some wholly unforeseen development, we’re here for the duration—and time appears to be running out, slowly but surely.
No visitors just yet, please: we’ll let you know when Mrs. T feels like company again. Your best wishes are enough for the moment. Believe me, they matter—a lot. And as usual, allow me to repeat my familiar plea: if you haven’t signed up to be an organ donor, please do so now, and encourage your friends to do likewise. That could matter even more.
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“The others wait…and wait…and wait…and wait.” The opening scene of Casablanca: