The first step included blood work and some other easy lab tests. Then I met with a Social Worker and a Neuropsychiatric Doctor. UCLA set me up with a social worker to make sure that I had a support group and that I wanted to donate for the right reasons. They also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t being pressured into doing anything by family members, friends, etc.
The same type of questioning happened with the Psychologist. He also tested my thought process to make sure that I was not a suicidal person and that I understood all of the side effects. These included a change in behavior, mood swings, depression if the recipient rejects the liver, etc.
During CT Angio they put an IV in my arm and got me ready for being slid into a dough nut shaped machine. Then they injected me with a dye that made me feel all warm everywhere… kind of like I just went to the bathroom on myself! It was painless…just an odd sensation running through my body for a few minutes. The Chest X-rays are self explanatory as well.
The Cardio Consultation was some questioning about my health status and basics like weight, height, blood pressure, etc. After the consult, they put me on a treadmill and raised the incline every 3 minutes for as long as I could go while increasing the speed. This tested my heart rate as well as it’s ability to function under the stress from running on incline. Luckily I am a runner so I was able to stay on the treadmill for a decent amount of time!
The Hepatology Consultation was nothing more than a 5-10 minute talk with a liver specialist who asked me what I knew about the surgery. He also gave me some useful information about my liver. This was a great opportunity for me to ask all of my questions about my liver and the function that it performs.
The Liver Biopsy was the first time I was actually nervous. I’ve never had a needle stuck that far into me. I think I got psyched out from all the questioning and needles. The actual process was quick and almost painless because I was still sedated. It felt like I was being punched in the ribs…not as bad as it sounds.
I had a bad reaction to the pain killers because I had an empty stomach from fasting prior to the test. I also got some air trapped underneath my diaphragm which didn’t help. This problem was specifically related to me and had nothing to do with the procedure. I just couldn’t burp to get the air out of my stomach.
The MRC Scan was easy. I just laid down in a small tube with some cold air blowing over me. If you’re claustrophobic you may have a problem with this, but it’s really easy and I actually liked this test. They told me to hold my breath for a moment and then take a series of deep breaths. At one point the test went on its own for about 5-10 minutes with some humming. I actually took a quick power nap even with all the noise!
**Note – If you have a tattoo, like me, you will feel a warming sensation, nothing to worry about unless your tattoo is old school and the ink that they used has metallic substances in it. Otherwise you have nothing to worry about, the technicians will explain everything.
The Surgery Consult was when I met my actual surgeon. I received a detailed explanation of everything that was going to happen to me and I got to ask plenty of questions. I had a note pad of questions written down so that I didn’t forget anything. There is no such thing as a dumb question. BE SURE TO ASK ANY QUESTIONS THAT YOU HAVE AND REMEMBER THEY ARE OPERATING ON YOU SO DON’T BE SHY!