Transplant surgery is the most interesting field hands down! Ok so maybe I am a bit biased. I have an amazing opportunity to live my dream and to be training to do what I love. It’s not easy, in-fact, I will argue that it is one of the most difficult training. The hours are horrible, you work all the time, you have some of the sickest patients in the hospital. The surgeries can be very long, physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting and technically demanding. But the highs are high and you get to experience miracles.
On this particular day, I woke up at 2 in the morning after getting a phone call that a patient’s condition had changed. Quickly showered and headed for the hospital. Immediately booked the patient for the operating room as she needed emergency surgery. Her operation lasted until 6am and after that I rounded on our patients and then an elective surgery. I had a couple of patients to see in the clinic after OR and the rest of the afternoon was spent working on paperwork and modules I have to complete as part of my training. I went home around 5pm, hung out with my kids and then we went to watch a movie from 7-9. I received a few phone calls while at the movies but nothing that required me to return to the hospital. By 11pm I was headed back to the hospital where I was meeting my resident and donate life coordinator and we were off to the airport where we boarded a private jet that took us to another state for an organ procurement. Sometimes we get the liver, sometimes liver and kidneys and sometimes we get liver, pancreas, small intestine. In this case we were getting liver, pancreas, small intestine – one of my most favorite surgeries. Within 3 hours we were headed back home with our gifts of life.
When we arrive we go straight to the operating room where our patient is already asleep on the OR table and the surgery to remove their diseased organs is underway. I then get our new organs ready for transplantation and then help with that transplant. By the time we finish it’s 6 hours later and I grab some dinner and go to my call room to take a nap. Early morning I have to go for another organ procurement so I am hoping I get a few hours sleep. On this particular night it’s not meant to be as I have a sick patient that ends up having to go to the operating room and then the ICU. By the time I head back to my call room it’s 3 am. A limo will be picking me up at 8 am to take me to the hospital where I will be performing surgery. I manage to get interrupted 3 hours of sleep and then round on my patients before going off to the other hospital.
That afternoon I come back with a liver and two kidneys and I help with the kidney transplants while the second year fellow helps with the liver transplant. By 10pm I am done and I take my tired little self home where I shower before passing out the minute my head hits the pillow. If I am lucky it will be a quiet night and I will sleep for four hours without interruption which is all I need to feel refreshed, otherwise it’s sleep with phone calls interspersed. I don’t mind the phone calls, I would rather be called 20x during the night than show up in the morning to surprises. If there is a problem I want to know about it right away because I truly believe it makes a difference in patient outcomes.
It’s easy to work 36 to 48 hours straight because often times when it rains it pours. And then some days are light and we have no surgeries and patients are chilling no one critically ill and I get to sleep all night with very few or no interruptions. It’s the nature of the job and depends on organ availability. We do a lot of elective cases so on any given day we generally have a case going. Light days are when I catch up on my other work. It’s tough as a fellow because you are on call 24/7 but the workload gets better as an attending, but you also have a whole lot more going on and responsibilities than a fellow. So right now is the best time of my life when I still have someone watching over me and teaching me the craft. I find joy after a transplant is complete and we have connected everything that needs connected and the organs come to life. I say WOW, every time, I never tire of it. Imagine small bowel that is white and when you get blood supply to it, it pinks up, its just amazing. It’s a reminder to me every time that I serve a mighty God!
Grateful to the organ donors and their families. #Beanorgandonor