Lung Transplant Nurse Practitioner, Penn Transplant Institute

Melissa transplant nurse practitioner

As a lung transplant nurse practitioner, I spend most of my time seeing patients in the clinic. We take them through a pretty intense evaluation process and get them all the tests they need to confirm they’re a good candidate for transplant. Once they’re listed, I follow them through transplant and beyond. At any given time, I’m overseeing the care of up to 250 patients – at all stages of transplant.

I think I have a unique perspective on transplant thanks to the five years I spent as a transplant coordinator at the Gift of Life Donor Program. In that position, I went out on donor recoveries, spoke to families about organ donation, and handled entire cases from start to finish.

Most people who work in transplant haven’t worked on the donor side of the field. Having that knowledge helps me in my job now. For instance, patients often have a lot of questions about their donor. It’s common for them to feel guilty that they get to live while someone else died. Sometimes they need to talk through those feelings.

I tell my patients that most families view donation as a way for their loved one to live on in some way. It’s the only good thing to come from their death: someone else will get to live, enjoy their life, see their children get married, see grandchildren grow up. I would often hear families say the same thing when I was getting their consent for donation.

“Please tell the recipient to savor their gift and take good care of it.”

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