Thursday, December 20, 2012

After THE call - Reflections. A long heartfelt post.

So, we've had our first trial run.  Thoughts and Reflections

I'll admit it.  It was pretty emotional to get that call last night.  I had just sat down to dinner (made by my daughter, Emma - bless you) when Keith phoned and said "I got the call".  My first response - "I'll leave now", and then promptly collapsed, crying, into Emma's arms.  

Collapsed?  Am I being too dramatic?  Maybe, but the wave of relief that went through my mind was massive.  Interestingly enough, there was a very loud voice in my head telling me that this was likely a false alarm, not to get my hopes up, and to stay calm.  I can only say that I was relieved to know that we were REALLY on the transplant list.  The phone call confirmed it.  This COULD happen.  

I drove to get Keith from WestPark, and we were at TGH within an hour of the call.  This was at about 8:00 and we mistakenly went to Emergency, and were redirected to Admitting.  (As Keith likes to say, where you admit that you are sick :) )

They directed us up to 7B where we were met by the Nurse on Duty Terri, along with nurses Raaj and Chriselle.  Dr. Kabbani was the transplant fellow on duty who examined Keith, while the nurses took his vitals, asked loads of questions about his day, his health, his emotional state, etc. and the next hour was spent getting bloodwork done, sputum samples, various other samples (!) and getting an IV line into his arm - which took some doing!

The OR had been tentatively booked for 2 a.m. and now we needed to wait while the process to evaluate the donor lungs was carried out.  We would be updated as they knew, and the surgeon would come to speak with us before the surgery should everything go well.

At this point, both Keith and I were pretty quiet.  I was busy keeping up with letting everyone know what was going on, and we were both so incredibly appreciative for all of the love, prayer and support that was flowing into us from all over the globe.  I was updating my Facebook status regularly to keep everyone as informed as I could, all the while being cautious to say that while we had got THE call, we needed to wait to see if the lungs were viable.  False calls are common, and we were very aware of that.    I talked with Keith for a bit about the lungs that he was waiting for.  How the doctors were examining them so carefully to ensure that they would be perfect for him.  How they were scoping them with a camera (which is amazing) and flushing them out to reduce any inflammation, and how they could even heal them if they required some healing.

In the reflective moments over the next few hours, my mind went to the scene somewhere else, where a family had made the decision to support someones wishes and give the gift of life to others.   The process that happens on that other side of the coin is a very delicate one.  If you can even imagine, when it is obvious that someones life will be coming to an end, there are people on hand who are trained to have the difficult discussion with the loved ones.  Time is of the essence, and I cannot even begin to fathom how delicate they need to be.  I want to publicly say to the world, that Keith and I are so grateful for this family, and for other families who have made or will make this incredibly important choice.  It is the ultimate gift, bar none, that you can share.

At midnight, Keith was given two immunosuppression drugs, Cyclosporine and Heparin so that, should the surgery go through, he will already be suppressed and the chance of initial rejection is reduced.  FYI, Cyclosporine actually smells like skunk.  Thankfully, Keith's tastebuds are kind of nonexistent, so he wasn't too bothered.  I got a whiff of those things before he swallowed them.  NASTY.

At 1:00 I went to get a snack and ran into Dr. Kabbani in the hallway.  I said a quick hello, and was going to walk past her, when she said she was coming to talk with Keith.  We were silent as we walked back to the room together, but I knew.  She wasn't the surgeon coming to talk with us.  The potential lungs were not viable for transplant.

Keith was okay.  I was okay.  Expect nothing, and you will never be disappointed.  We were hopeful, but realistic.  It was not to be, but now we knew that Keith was ON the list.  Not that we doubted it, but it is real now.

Update to Thursday morning, December 20th.  With Keith's health issues as concerning as they are, and with WestPark closing for the holidays, Keith is moving to Toronto General Hospital tomorrow morning so that he will be monitored 24/7 with his transplant team in hospital.

This move is the best thing for him, and along with your prayers and love and healing thoughts, we know that he will get the new lungs that he needs, and begin his new life.   Faith, love, hope.  Truly, they all come into play here.  Thank you all so very much for your support.  It means the world to both of us.  We are so blessed, with family, friends, and extended friends (social media!) and the most incredible medical team in the world.

I will keep in touch.



  1. Thank you for sharing your story. From the number of people who have read your article which is 392 and counting, since it was posted on Sunday - it has touched people's hearts. has been linked 23 times from the article. Hopefully that translates to prospective donors.

    I was surprised that more often then not - THE CALL is often a false alarm. Maybe those lungs will be perfect for another recipient. It is so important for other people to understand that it might not work out, the first time.

    You are right in saying that everyone is praying for Keith - how could they not. However, it is also important to recognize the donor and their family. How hard it is to loose a loved one, but how wonderful it must be to know that a piece of them will live on. It is a miraculous gift.

    Laura and I are thinking of you both often.
    God Bless!

  2. You're both in my prayers, and as sad as it is for someone else to lose someone they love, I hope that a pair of viable lungs becomes available soon.

    Giving this gift is so, so important. My husband and I are both registered, and, thinking of you both, I've pressed everyone I know to be registered, too.


  3. That phone call is the happiest and scariest moment of one's life. Having been there with my husband, I can appreciate the adrenaline rush when it comes, the nervous wait while the organs' viability is determined and the crushing blow when the answer is "no."

    However the time the answer is "yes" is a time both of joy and fear and I trust it will occur soon enough for Keith and yourself.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.