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