Organ Runs

An ambulance with a surgical team shows up and you load them on the plane. Could be 5am or 5pm, 2pm or 2am. Along with their medical gear and scalpel cases, it looks like they stopped at a sporting goods store and picked up an Igloo cooler - either empty or with ice (or fluids, we never looked inside). You land in New York or Miami, San Angelo or El Paso and another ambulance whisks them away. You prayed they were harvesting a heart because that's the first organ that comes out and the first team to fly home - less wait time (2-4 hours) in sometimes-god-awful places. Lungs next, then liver, kidneys, pancreas (you can wait 6-7 hours for these). You can get a idea of your wait by listening to the team talk about when they are going to "cross-clamp" - brutally speaking - this is the time they shut the living body down. You have to hustle, especially with the heart, because there's only so much time an organ can stay out of a body (they are slowly implementing pump/coolers to keep organs, ummm, fresh longer). You keep your fingers crossed for no weather or mechanical issues that could jeopardize the organ - it happened to me once with a child's heart, though they were able to salvage the valves and arteries. A good call-out was a "box run": A surgical team in another city was going to pull and package the organ and all you had to do is fly empty (in casual clothes) to retrieve it (see liver photo). Sadly, someone has to pass, but 7, or more, others can benefit and live on.

— Editor