Education And Debate Personal paper

Waiting for a transplantA patient's perspectiveThe referring consultant's perspective

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 03 February 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:293

Waiting for a transplant

With modern evidence based medicine and audit, are we somehow getting away from the basic humanity of the doctor-patient relationship? Here a patient describes her experience of being on a waiting list and her consultant reacts to her being removed from that list

A patient's perspective

  1. Jennifer Rickman, patient
  1. Winchester, Hampshire
  2. Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, Hampshire

    December 1996

    I have lived with bronchiectasis since childhood when, aged 4, I had measles and whooping cough. My mother was told that my life expectancy was not brilliant, but here I was, more than 50 years later, being asked by my consultant how I felt about his making inquiries into a lung transplant. I agreed.

    My consultant got in touch with a transplant hospital to see if they would consider me. The hospital wrote back in March 1997 to say that they would assess me for a double lung transplant.

    May 1997

    I attended the transplant unit for assessment. Everyone was so nice and helpful and explained everything. At the end the surgeon offered me the operation, and I accepted. Suddenly life was different. I was given a bleeper so that they could always get in touch at any time. I packed my case … I was ready.

    For the first few weeks we lived from day-to-day, waiting for the telephone to ring. I came to realise that the waiting can go on for a very long time, but I was confident that I could cope.

    November 1997

    The phone rang at 9 55 pm. It was the transplant unit. I was off. Within 10 minutes the ambulance was at the door; two hours later I arrived at the hospital (my husband was coming in the car) to be told they had just heard that the organs were not suitable for transplantation. On the way, in the ambulance, I had been thinking “this time tomorrow it will all be over.” I even …

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