Every month, I go to the Methodist University Transplant Clinic to have my p.r.a. (percent reactive antibody) blood test performed. I go the first week of every month and this month my beautiful gingersnap joined me at the clinic. Every time I have my blood drawn for this test, I distract myself from the the needle by singing the oh so appropriate song “Match Maker” from Fiddler On The Roof in my head.
The purpose of the p.r.a. blood test is to ascertain if I have been exposed to new foreign tissues and if I have developed antibodies to them. If I have, then the donor organ must match those antibodies. As these antibodies can change frequently, the test must be performed monthly as well as immediately prior to the transplant surgery.
Along with the p.r.a. test, many other factors must match before a donor organ can be matched and hopefully a successful transplant performed. Our blood types must match and the donor’s height and weight must be approximately the same as mine. After those are matched, our tissues must match. This can vary greatly depending upon if the transplant recipient has had miscarriages, pregnancies, blood transfusions, previous surgeries or previous transplants. If the recipient has had any or all of these things, they are what is called “sensitized” and can be difficult to match.
Unfortunately for me, I am sensitized. From what I understand, I am a hard one to match. Sometimes being unique isn’t good. Ha Ha! When it comes to medical conditions, you just want to be a middle of the pack, run of the mill kind of case. Because of the difficulty in matching a suitable organ to me, I could possibly be on the pancreas transplant waiting list quite a long time…or I could get the call tomorrow. Who knows?