Lori’s Adventure

December 16, 2010

I scrubbed into a kidney transplant last night. In honor of my friend Lori’s birthday, I named the new kidney Lori, and will refer to it as such for the rest of this entry.

At about 3: 13 p.m. they announced the procedure. A 63 year old man was found in the bathroom of his home. He died of an intracranial bleed, and happened to be an organ donor. Transplants should be done ideally within 10 hours of the donor’s death.

Lori arrived to the hospital in a pod. A kidney between bodies is like a human in outer space. You have to take special considerations to keep it alive. The pod pumped fluid into Lori, and kept the temperature at 26-27 degrees.

Lori's Pod

I planned to go in for an hour. 7-8. One of my teammates – a bit of a surgery enthusiast – was there too. This was going to go until midnight. So, my teammate scrubbed in and I watched while they opened a big man to make room for a small organ.

Side note – how to transplant a kidney (101). There are three main connections between the kidney and the body. An artery (blood goes into the kidney); a vein (blood comes out of the kidney); a ureter (the kidney makes urine, which goes to the bladder). The trick is to connect the transplanted kidney’s artery/vein/ureter to the patient’s artery/vein/bladder.

Back to the story.

I was standing in the OR. Things were moving slowly at first. I wouldn’t be able to see Lori come out of her pod at all at the rate things were going. At about 7:39 p.m., the head of transplant told me to go to the sink. He wanted me to help prepare Lori for her surgery. We scrubbed, gowned, and at about 7:47 Lori emerged frozen from her pod. She was pink and a little slimy, and covered in fascia [happy birthday friend]. We put her in a bowl of ice and saline solution, went to a table and got to work.

It’s sad that I get such a thrill from holding little blood vessels with giant tweezers while a man I barely know ties knots and trims them off. I guess everyone has their quirks. For about 20 minutes we flipped Lori around, taking off bits of fat, thready pieces of tissue, thin unnecessary arteries, until everything was clean and smooth. She looked great.

Finally, it was time to put her in. We brought her over in her bowl. I watched the chief, my attending, and the director of transplant maneuver her into the body cavity, reincarnating her to a new life.

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2 Responses to “Lori’s Adventure”

  1. dad Says:

    wonderful description. you should expand it and consider submitting it to something like the Annals of Internal medicine “On Being a Doctor” feature

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