Questions to Ask When You Need a Transplant

Patient Talking with DoctorBeing told you need an organ transplant can be one of the scariest movements of your life. There is a lot going through your brain and one of the more important questions is who is going to perform the transplant that saves your life.

Often we get asked about my husband’s transplant and people always want to know not only where it was perform but by who and why. When choosing a facility to have his transplant performed there were a number of things we had to consider.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Transplant Hospital

Insurance:

  • What hospital(s) does our health insurance cover and what are the different coverage rates?
  • What specifically is covered and will any items be out of pocket or considered a pre-existing condition?
  • What is the out of pocket cost?
  • Is there process to verifying that all post-transplant medications are covered prior to leaving the hospital?
  • What is the notification process when a new organ has been found and transplant is a “go”?
  • Is family lodging and travel covered under the insurance plan while the patient is in the hospital?

Hospital:

  • How many successful transplants have their performed for this specific organ?
  • How long is the waiting list for this type of transplant and how many are listed in front of me?
  • What is their transplant evaluation process?
  • What is their transplant surgery process?
  • How long do they tend to keep patients after transplant?
  • Will they provide physical therapy and what is that process?
  • What is their success rate?
  • What is the survival rate in years post-transplant?

Surgeon/Medical Staff

  • Who will be my organ transplant surgeon?
  • What are the surgeons and doctors specialties?
  • What types of specialized training have their received?
  • How have other patients rated the staff?

Upon answering all these questions, we were blessed to find out that not only did our healthcare insurance cover the double lung (bilateral) transplant in full but also covered travel and lodging for the family during the entire hospital stay. The hospital that we chose was UW-Madison Hospitals and Clinics because of their high rate of success and they had one of the top lung transplant surgeons in the nation that was also a Cystic Fibrosis double lung transplant specialist. As we found out later, this was crucial because ¾ of my husband’s chest cavity had to be cauterized due to the extent of his illness.

Had we not done the due diligence and asked the questions above, to ensure he had the best care possible, there is a good chance he would have never survived the transplant surgery let alone be healthy and happy 5 years post-transplant.

After her husband received a double-lung (bilateral) transplant in 2004, Shannon founded the Angel Cove Organ Donation Awareness Shop, which provides awareness t-shirts and gifts products for transplant recipients, living organ donors and donor families - giving 100% of the profits to help heart and lung transplant recipients with medical costs. Shannon lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her wonderful husband and two chocolate Labrador Retrievers.

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