DECEMBER 11–Direct Donation Clarification

So…… we were mistaken about how donor lung allocation works. Once Caitlin went on ECMO, and her score put her available, nationwide, for lungs (as opposed to the normal regional allocation), we thought that meant that the severity of her case meant that her team could have first dibs on lungs, no matter where they were.

Caitlin’s doctor just set Nick straight on that. The UPMC team only has first dibs if the donor region surgeons can’t use the lungs. Nick said he felt like the doctor hit him with a hammer.

This shocks me. I remember, around Thanksgiving 2015, Caitlin was very stable. Another petite woman I knew, also with O+ blood, like Caitlin, was so sick that I knew she would get a transplant before Caitlin. As she did and should have. This regional allocation is wrong, and some docs are trying to change it, but it’s what we have to work with right now.

The only thing that can override it is a family’s wish to make a direct donation. We are grateful to anyone out there who would consider the gift of life during a time of grief, as Nick’s family did when his brother, at age 29, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.

Caitlin O’Hara is 5′ 2 with a blood type of O+ and is on life support at UPMC, Pittsburgh.

Regardless of size and blood type though, there is always someone in desperate need of something. Please: Register as an Organ Donor

Author: kittenupdates

I am the author of CASCADE and LITTLE MATCHES: A Memoir of Grief and Light

10 thoughts on “DECEMBER 11–Direct Donation Clarification”

  1. Thinking of my beautiful niece caitlin whom never once complained and would really show you how life should be lived . Caitlin is my inspiration and we love her so much as we love nick and maryanne sending hugs xxxx

  2. We are spreading the word as fast as we can. Love you all. Wish there was more we could do. Just know we think of you all every minute of every day. Give our sweet girl a kiss and give each other hugs from us. Sending you love and strength. Xo

  3. Maryanne and Nick,
    I have sent out a massive distribution list of friends and family to register as an organ donor. I have always been registered as an organ donor myself. Thinking of you, Nick and Caitlin. My prayers are with you. If there is anything I can do for you in Pittsburgh, please let me know and I would be very willing to help you in any way possible.
    God Bless and Hugs, Nanci Sullivan

    1. Thank you so much. Because the situation is so dire, we are appealing for direct donation. As two close friends so perfectly worded, earlier: This is a desperate plea for my friend’s 33-year-old daughter who is on life support right now and, according to a national scoring system, is considered the sickest person in the United States awaiting a lung transplant. Yet because of a controversial system, she will only be considered for lungs outside her geographical region if other doctors have already rejected lungs for their own patients. She has little time left. One other option is for “direct donation” of lungs to Caitlin O’Hara.  As Caitlin’s mother said, “We are grateful to anyone out there who would consider the gift of life during a time of grief.”  She’s at UPMC Pittsburgh and is O+ and 5’2” (which makes the pool of candidates even smaller). As importantly, this is a reminder to be an organ donor if you aren’t already. Register as an Organ Donor

  4. We haven’t stopped thinking of everyone & praying something comes available. We’ve pushed the word out to all our friends. Thank you for keeping us posted. Lots of love and hope from Boston- Amy & Todd

  5. Just posted the request on my Synagogues mail blat system. Will reach out to almost 1,000 households. Finger crossed.

  6. I’ve been praying for Caitlin and also wanted to pass this message along to Caitlin’s family…my cousin lives in PA and saw my Facebook post asking to spread the word about a direct donation. She said: “Our PA senator Pat Toomey campaigned on the rules he helped break to get a local girl moved to the top of the list. Perhaps your friend’s family could call the Senator’s office to see if he could broker another exception?”

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