We, transplant coordinators, sign up for this with one goal: make a difference in somebody’s life. As a lung transplant coordinator I have the opportunity to make a difference with patients who have a deadly disease that a lot of you are familiar with that is called pulmonary fibrosis. As a lone coordinator of a new lung transplant program I have had the opportunity to do it all. I was the one making initial contact with a sick patient referred to us, walk them through the whole process, brake the news they were approved for transplant, place them on the waitlist and then call them once a donor was available. There is not a better feeling than offering hope to someone who is short of breath by just talking on the phone. A lot of work needs to be done by the transplant coordinator and also the patients/caregivers to get there. The reward is the actual transplant but there is still a lot of work to be done after the surgery. I have seen patients go through ups and downs when recovering. The proudest moment for me as a lung transplant coordinator is when someone finally rings that bell at discharge time. The patient is finally going home with his new lungs and a second chance at life. The patient and family is forever grateful but we are also grateful towards the patient who at the end of the day is the one who trusted us with their life. The next big milestone after that is the one year anniversary. To see the patient looking like a “normal” person again is very rewarding. All the pain, suffering, tears shedding that occurred following the transplant is now forgotten: it was all worth it. The patient is enjoying life again and making plans for travel or whatever else they like about being alive.
If I had to give you one advice it would be to seek out a medical opinion at a lung transplant center especially if your treating physician is not doing it for you. Only a lung transplant center would be qualified to tell you if you meet the criteria to be a lung transplant candidate.