Getting Ready for an Organ Transplant
Handling the Financing of an Organ Transplant continued...
To cover these nonmedical costs, as well as some of the uncovered medical expenses, you can check out various charitable and advocacy groups, such as the National Transplant Assistance Fund or the American Kidney Fund. A lengthy list of organizations is posted at the consumer web site maintained by UNOS, called "Transplant Living."
If you decide to take the fund-raising into your own hands, sponsoring a car wash or asking for donations from your church or temple members, for instance, get advice first about legalities from your transplant team and your accountant. Different city and county regulations come into play, and the money you raise may be counted as taxable income, perhaps affecting your eligibility for assistance programs.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Organ Transplants
Even if you've tended to your mental, physical, and financial preparation, it's common to have a lengthy list of questions about your organ transplant.
One of the most common is how much advance notice you'll get that an organ has been found.
The answer varies by organ, says Abouljoud, who performs liver transplants. For liver organs, he says, you may typically get a call from the hospital two or three hours before they expect you there. For kidney transplants it may be between 24 to 30 hours' notice. But in general, how soon the transplant team expects you depends on a number of factors, including your health condition.
Other questions that are often asked include:
- Can you describe the risk of organ transplant as well as the benefits?
- Can you explain how organ transplant waiting lists work?
- Can you tell me the success rates for my particular organ transplant and age group?
- How many transplants does the transplant center I am going to do each year? (New federal guidelines require centers, with rare exceptions, to do an average of 10 a year to maintain federal funding.)
- How long is the waiting list for the organ I need at the transplant center I picked?
- What is the one-year survival rate at your center for this type of transplant? How does it compare with the national average? (National averages are posted at the web site maintained by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, called "U.S. Transplant.")
- How many surgeons are available to do my type of organ transplant?
- How long do I stay in the hospital after the transplant?
- May I travel, or do I need to stay within a specific distance of the center at all times?
- What follow-up tests will be needed and for how long?
- What are the odds I will need to return to the hospital?
- May I have a tour of the center?