Michelle Update #4

Thanks, everyone, for everything. We are doing fine for now – we spent the evening reminiscing and laughing over Michelle stories. It was very cathartic.

On the organ donation subject: Michelle had 3 organs which were usable for donation – her liver and both of her kidneys – and there were recipients waiting for each of them. She was so tiny that her pancreas couldn’t be used, her heart was too damaged, and she had been on the vent too long to use either her lungs or her intestines.

There are many different ways for things to make organ donation a no-go. Different hospitals have different protocols for “time” – once the ventilator is removed, there is a time limit for how long the donor can be off the ventilator before it is too late to make a live donation due to circulation issues.

Some hospitals have a 60-minute window, others have a 90-minute window. The hospital where Michelle was has a 60-minute window policy, but the donor organization is trying to get the hospital’s policy changed to a 90-minute window.

We were able to be in the OR after Michelle’s ventilator was removed. After 60 minutes, Michelle’s heartbeat had only moved from 126 bpm to 116 bpm, and her oxygen level had moved from 100% to 95%.

We left the OR very saddened and disappointed. We went back to the surgery waiting room while the OR staff got Michelle ready to go back to her room, where she would be allowed to pass away. We figured we would have time, so we went to eat in the hospital cafe.

A few minutes later, one of the nurses from the OR came and found us. Apparently while they were preparing Michelle to move back to a room, she quit breathing.

Twelve minutes after the 60-minute window had closed.

If the hospital had a 90-minute policy, Michelle’s organs would have been harvested for transplantation, and tonight three families would have renewed hope for their loved one’s future.

She will still be a tissue donor – apparently over 200 people can be helped by all of the different tissues that can be harvested from a single donor.

And we told the Donor Coordinator that we would be more than happy to write a letter to the hospital’s Medical Review Board telling them Michelle’s story.

As Rachel remarked, perhaps Michelle’s case – and others like hers – will convince the board to change their 60-minute policy to a 90-minute policy.

And in the long run, perhaps Michelle could end up saving an infinitely larger number of people.

That thought brings us much hope.

(Facebook link: https://tinyurl.com/ybb8movc)

About Teresa in Fort Worth, TX

A short, fat, middle-aged, happily-married, mother of 4 daughters. A former high school valedictorian (way back in the Stone Age), a Civil Engineering major in college, a middle-of-the-road Conservative, and a moderate Methodist. I know just enough to get myself in trouble....
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