Diary of a Living Donor Transplant Coordinator

Here, Caroline Basarab-Horwath, our Trustee, shares a typical day in her role as Living Donor Transplant Coordinator at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Alarm is set for 6.00am. Children and husband prepared for an early start as it’s ‘theatre day’. I wake particularly nervous as today our donor who is a non directed donor (donating to a stranger) is starting a chain of transplants. I call the ward before leaving home to make sure the donor is okay and hasn’t had any problems overnight.

When I arrive at the hospital I quickly change into scrubs and head to the ward to see the donor before joining the theatre staff for the morning briefing. I then call the other transplant centres to check their donors and recipients are all okay.

Once all the centres have confirmed they are ready, I let theatre staff know they can bring our donor down to the anaesthetic room. I then head off to theatre with the kidney box filled with ice, ready for safe removal of the kidney.

Once the operation has started, I head back to the office to catch up on some work until the theatre sister calls to say the kidney is ready to be removed. I then return to theatre to prepare the perfusion fluid and ice. The theatre falls quiet as the surgeon gets ready to remove the kidney, which is then swiftly inspected by the recipient’s surgeon. I watch eagerly as the perfusion fluid goes through the kidney.

When the surgeon is happy with the kidney he places it carefully in three bags and passes it to me – this is my favourite part. We have all worked so hard to coordinate this kidney donor, and now here it is in my hands. I then place it in the kidney box, ready for the next part of its journey.

I complete all the paperwork and call the driver who is waiting outside the theatre to let them know the kidney is ready. I then hand the kidney over to the driver and wish them a safe journey. I stand and watch the driver leave carrying the precious cargo and breath a sigh of relief. I then contact the Living Donor Coordinator of the centre that is waiting for the kidney to say it is on its way.

I inform the donor’s family that all has gone well, and the donor goes to recovery. Then it’s back to the office for a late lunch and to complete the paper work for the kidney donation. The phone is always ringing and I eagerly take referrals of new potential donors that are about to embark on their journey.

Before heading home, I visit the donor on the ward and marvel at what a wonderful thing they have done today. Not only have they given a new kidney to one person, which is the best treatment option for kidney failure, but started a chain of transplants decreasing the waiting list by 3 people all in one day.

As I drive home I feel incredibly proud of my small part of this an amazing achievement.