On August 29th, Bob and Mary brought boxed lunches to CHOA meet with four of the social workers that we will be working closely with. Each one represented a specific solid organ. We met with the ones working with hearts (Molly Dugan), livers (Cindy deSa), kidneys (David Cooper) and intestinal rehab (Anne Sanders). What stood out the most to both of us was their dedication to their small patients. Mary specifically asked them if they fall in love with their patients and they all said a resounding “YES!” And they also added that when they lose a patient, they grieve them. It’s hard to imagine a more difficult job.
At CHOA, kids aren’t simply tiny adults. They need specialized pediatric care. The CHOA staff are committed to making all kids better today and healthier tomorrow.
Many different conditions can lead to the transplant of solid organs. Transplants are not necessarily congenital, as some might assume. The transplant program at CHOA provides 1) pre-transplant evaluations, 2) wait list levels and donor process information, 3) patient matching processes, 4) care before transplant, 4) care during transplant and 5) care after transplant. And part of the role of the social workers is to connect with the families (care givers) of their patients. The Evans family is very familiar with being the care givers and it is that part of the social workers’ jobs that we understand the most. And it is what we are most passionate about. In regards to our foundation and our apartments, the social workers are the professionals who recommend a family to the Georgia Transplant Foundation for use of our apartments.
Here is a summary of what the transplant department at CHOA does:
- Liver Transplant Program: They are home to one of the largest pediatric liver transplant programs in the country. They have performed more than 500 liver transplants on infants, children and young adults, and have some of the shortest wait times in the country.
- Heart Transplant Program: Their pediatric heart transplant team has performed more than 350 heart transplants on children with survival rates that are better than the national average.
- Kidney Transplant Program: For more than 30 years, they have been a pioneer in pediatric kidney transplantation. They have wait times and patient survival rates that are better than the national average. They have performed more than 675 kidney transplants.
- Adolescent and Young Adult Transplant Program: They provide the resources to help make the transition to adulthood as smooth as possible. Their “I Own It” Clinic is specially designed for their liver, heart and kidney transplant patients ages 14 to 21.
CHOA treats patients from birth to age 21. Most families of the patients stay at the Ronald McDonald House and they are so grateful for that resource. Our apartments will in no way compete with the Ronald McDonald House; we will supplement it.
It was absolutely wonderful to finally meet these people. Our hope is that we will be able to accommodate their patients and care givers in any way possible. Sometimes an apartment, with total privacy, will be the best thing for a child and his/her care giver. And that is why our foundation exists.