I’ve been staying at the Penn Transplant House for the last few days. So far, it’s already been a great experience. I’ve mentioned that it’s like an affordable hotel for transplant recipients and donors to stay after their surgeries, but it’s a lot more than that. It feels like a community.
The building itself is very community-focused. There’s a huge living room with lots of couches, a big-screen TV, tons of movies and TV shows on both DVDs and VHSs, and tons of books. It has a gym, laundry room, and lots of sitting areas. There’s also a communal dining area and kitchen. Speaking of the kitchen, every week or two, volunteers from the hospital or the university come and cook meals for the guests. A couple of evenings ago, social workers and other volunteers from the hospital came and cooked us a chili dinner with salad and lots of desserts, with more than enough for leftovers (I had some of the chili for lunch today). It’s also a way to bring the guests together to talk about their experiences.
During that dinner, Jill and I met a lot of really interesting people, mostly transplant recipients and their caregivers, with some really interesting experiences. For example, there was someone who was on dialysis for 8 years while on the organ donation list, and during that time turned down 13 kidneys, saying they should go to kids who need them more than him. Eventually, his doctor told him he needed a kidney so he accepted a donation from a deceased donor 2 and a half years ago. He had an early morning appointment on Tuesday and lives far away, so he was staying overnight the night before his appointment so he wouldn’t have to get up too early. I also met someone who was at death’s door after he got pneumonia in both lungs and had to be put in a medically induced coma for many months. But 3 weeks after coming to Penn, he had a double-lung transplant from a deceased donor. Now, 5 months later, he’s just a few weeks away from being able to go home. He’s been discharged from the hospital, but he needs to stay nearby for continued tests making sure everything is going well. He told me that once he’s well enough, he wants to run up the Rocky steps here in Philly with his young son. I also met another person who received a heart transplant from a deceased donor and someone else who received a lung transplant from a deceased donor. Meeting so many people who received organs from deceased donors really underscores to me the importance of being an organ donor.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my experience with the transplant house so far. Before becoming a donor, I had no idea places like this existed. There would be no reason for me to know; but I’m happy that they do exist. I don’t know how it’s going to work since I live 3-4 hours from here, but once I’m fully recovered I want to find some way to volunteer here, because the work done here is so important.