At 6:23 a.m. this morning Lonnie, Ginger, and their daughter Janel arrived at my house for our trip to UW Hospital in Madison. As many of you know, I am not a morning person! But this trip had me excited, so I had no problem leaving so early. We arrived at UW Hospital at about 8:30 a.m. and checked in for our 8:45 a.m. appointment. The first step was to complete admissions information, which Lonnie and Ginger took care of while Janel and I sat and chit-chatted in the waiting area. Then the admissions gal took us down one floor to the Transplant Clinic. We sat there for quite awhile until they took us back into the room that we would stay in for the next three hours while several folks from different specialties came in to see us. The first couple of people got Lonnie updated in the system and took his vitals. Next we were visited by a nutritionist who discussed the type of diet that Lonnie should be following now. Because his dietitians in Marshfield have been doing a stellar job, she did not have much new to tell him! After that the social worker came in and spent about 1/2 hour talking with us about financial, social, and emotional issues that Lonnie and his family have faced up to this point and will likely face in the future. The next person on the agenda was Lynn, one of the transplant coordinators at UW. She was filling in today for our usual coordinator, Chris, who has been so spectacular in helping us out with getting established at UW(actually in getting Lonnie re-established since he was originally at UW before his insurance company balked and sent him to Froedtert!). Although Lynn was a great person to talk to, she didn't have much for new information since Chris has kept us up-to-date on the happenings so far. She did, however, give both Lonnie and I our lab orders that we would need later in the day. At this point I glanced at the surgeon's name that would be seeing us today -- his name?? JOSHUA! Same as my oldest son! I told them it MUST be another sign! Dr. Joshua Mezrich is his full name.
Shortly after Lynn left the room, Dr. Mezrich(or Josh, as I like to call him) entered the room. I could tell right away that I liked him. He was a younger guy and had a smile on his face. And of course the fact that his name was Josh was a bonus! Dr. Mezrich reviewed Lonnie's case and asked him a few questions. Then we girls left the room while he gave Lonnie a very brief physical. Then it was time to review the dreaded CT scan -- the scan that made Froedtert scream and run the other way! Dr. Mezrich brought it up on his computer and took the time to explain exactly what we were looking at. He then showed us the areas where there is some plaque build-up on the vessels around the kidneys. He explained that this can be a problem because placing the clamps during surgery can dislodge the plaque and cause blood clots in the legs. He also said that of course the blood flow could be a little more difficult to the new kidney. But then he said the words we were waiting to hear...."This will be a bit challenging and a little higher risk, but I am confident I can do it." HALLELUJAH!!! We all smiled when he said that....and so did he. He told Lonnie that the fact that he has a living donor is especially important in this type of case because the excellent health of the kidney will lower the risk of problems long-term. He answered so many questions from us and was so very patient. We then asked if he would be Lonnie's surgeon. He said it would depend on the scheduling, but we could request him. We said we would definitely do that!
In the end we both got blood drawn -- Lonnie won the "tube battle". He had 7 tubes drawn and I only had 3. Next week we will find out the results of our compatibility testing -- it should match Froedtert's results, but they wanted to be sure. We finished up with Lonnie's chest x-ray. Dr. Mezrich will need to present our case to his colleagues and be sure they all agree that it can be done, but he says they have definitely seen worse cases so he is pretty confident they will agree. He did mention that they may take Lonnie back first during surgery instead of the tradition of taking the donor back first. He wanted to do this just to ensure that they didn't have any surprises once they opened him up. If all the blood work comes back okay and his colleagues approve Lonnie, then they will set up my evaluation.
At UW Hospital as you enter their transplant clinic they have a darkened area with a wall full of names. On this wall they have the name of every living donor who has donated a kidney at their hospital -- all lit up in different color lights. How cool is that?? I am of course excited to have my name on that wall -- and Lonnie of course is jealous that he does not get his name on that wall! Poor guy.
We finished up the day with a late lunch at Chili's. What a great experience and a message of hope today was!! We did indeed feel like we were celebrating! Thank you all who are praying for us and following our story. You are an inspiration and a wonderful support to us all!