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Do airlines keep a list of potential organ donees in need of priority for a seat?

Do airlines keep a list of potential organ donees in need of priority for a seat?

Old Jun 27, 18, 8:29 pm
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Do airlines keep a list of potential organ donees in need of priority for a seat?

Greetings. I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this question, but here it goes. I have a friend who needs an organ transplant. His life depends on it. He's now on call with Washington University in St. Louis for a possible transplant, if one becomes available.

If he gets the call, he will need to race to St. Louis. As get there ASAP or someone else gets the organ. I'm helping him with flight information.

My question to the experts here is do airlines keep a list for someone in my friend's situation? He's not asking for any special fare -- he only needs to get on the next available flight if he gets the call. If the flight is oversold, it sure would be nice if the check-in agents see that he has maximum priority to get a seat.

Anyone have ideas on this? Thanks.
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Old Jun 27, 18, 8:39 pm
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Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
His life depends on it.
Given this is literally the most important thing in his life right now, I would recommend either
a) calling his local charter operators about what they can offer and making arrangements with those that offer a large number of aircraft at short notice
or b) moving into some accommodation next door to the hospital

Edit to add: How far is he going? Light piston range? Might be worth finding a CPL at local aero club who wants some hours.
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Last edited by WillR; Jun 27, 18 at 8:41 pm Reason: Add'l
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Old Jun 27, 18, 9:37 pm
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http://www.aircarealliance.org

You should look into this
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Old Jun 27, 18, 9:44 pm
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Old Jun 27, 18, 11:15 pm
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Originally Posted by WillR View Post
Given this is literally the most important thing in his life right now, I would recommend either
a) calling his local charter operators about what they can offer and making arrangements with those that offer a large number of aircraft at short notice
or
b) moving into some accommodation next door to the hospital

Edit to add: How far is he going? Light piston range? Might be worth finding a CPL at local aero club who wants some hours.
(my emphasis)
That's a really good idea. He lives in Oakland, Cal., and he would need to get to St. Louis. I'll discuss this with him.

Originally Posted by skylane View Post
http://www.angelflightsoars.org
Thank you very much. I'll mention this to my friend, but I think he does not meet the criteria.

Last edited by JY1024; Jun 30, 18 at 6:03 am Reason: Merge consecutive posts
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Old Jun 27, 18, 11:33 pm
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Best of luck to him. It's 1725 miles (Great Circle Mapper) so he'd want a jet which would be pricey (maybe $1500-$2000/hr for a citation, so total $10,000 all up?) but if he can't get a commercial flight and the trip would save his life, worth the cost IMO.

Edit: Also if he has to get a private charter he can bring along his spouse/ support person which does defray the cost when comparing 2 full fare last minute commercial fares. Eg best I see for tomorrow OAK-STL is $773, so the commercial fare isn't cheap either.
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Old Jun 28, 18, 12:48 am
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Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
Greetings. I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this question, but here it goes. I have a friend who needs an organ transplant. His life depends on it. He's now on call with Washington University in St. Louis for a possible transplant, if one becomes available.

If he gets the call, he will need to race to St. Louis. As get there ASAP or someone else gets the organ. I'm helping him with flight information.

My question to the experts here is do airlines keep a list for someone in my friend's situation? He's not asking for any special fare -- he only needs to get on the next available flight if he gets the call. If the flight is oversold, it sure would be nice if the check-in agents see that he has maximum priority to get a seat.

Anyone have ideas on this? Thanks.
I'm going to approach this from the perspective of someone who worked on a transplant unit for more than a decade.

His life depends on getting an organ. So why the hell isn't he in St. Louis already?

Does he really, really, really understand how short the "shelf life" for a harvested organ is? And when the hospital says be here in 6 hours, they want you being prepped for surgery in 6 hours, not on a plane circling and hoping a gate opens up soon? If you'd said he was in Oakland and on a list in LA or Seattle, I can see trying to get there last minute, but St. Louis? How many non-stop flights are there per 24 hours?

The fact that he lives in a part of California where there are some of the top transplant programs in the world and he's on list so far away suggests a couple more things to me that I won't go into on a public forum, but all of which suggest that the best advice to him is not about flights, it's about rethinking why he's not putting himself in the best possible position to get the transplant that would save his life.
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Old Jun 28, 18, 12:56 am
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
His life depends on getting an organ. So why the hell isn't he in St. Louis already?

Does he really, really, really understand how short the "shelf life" for a harvested organ is? And when the hospital says be here in 6 hours, they want you being prepped for surgery in 6 hours, not on a plane circling and hoping a gate opens up soon? If you'd said he was in Oakland and on a list in LA or Seattle, I can see trying to get there last minute, but St. Louis? How many non-stop flights are there per 24 hours?
I somewhat agree with this. I too have been involved in transplants; mostly brain-death but a few DCD. If it's a braindeath donation then there may be a up to a few days notice.

My second suggestion was to move to St Louis whilst waiting; I still think that's a good idea but I don't know the full details. A life-saving donation is presumably heart, lungs, or liver, I can't imagine the process taking <24 hours from discussion with family, organising recipients, withdrawal of support (if DCD) and transplantion.

If it was me, I agree, I would be hanging out in the hospital cafeteria, but maybe OP's friend has different life circumstances and needs to keep working to support his family (for example)
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Old Jun 28, 18, 6:44 am
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I've heard many stories of people in this situation who move to a furnished apartment near the hospital so that they can be there as soon as they get the call. Depending on commercial flights in this sort of situation is just too risky. Even charter flights carry the risk of weather or mechanical delays. I understand that it's very difficult to pack up your life and move to another city for possibly months at a time, but it would probably be the safest bet since his life actually depends on it.
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Old Jun 28, 18, 7:10 am
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
I'm going to approach this from the perspective of someone who worked on a transplant unit for more than a decade.

His life depends on getting an organ. So why the hell isn't he in St. Louis already?

Does he really, really, really understand how short the "shelf life" for a harvested organ is? And when the hospital says be here in 6 hours, they want you being prepped for surgery in 6 hours, not on a plane circling and hoping a gate opens up soon? If you'd said he was in Oakland and on a list in LA or Seattle, I can see trying to get there last minute, but St. Louis? How many non-stop flights are there per 24 hours?

The fact that he lives in a part of California where there are some of the top transplant programs in the world and he's on list so far away suggests a couple more things to me that I won't go into on a public forum, but all of which suggest that the best advice to him is not about flights, it's about rethinking why he's not putting himself in the best possible position to get the transplant that would save his life.
My thoughts exactly although in reverse order. I first wondered why he's on a list so far away and not on lists closer to home. If he's really near the top of the list in St. Louis, I can't imagine any reason why he's not there already. There are so many things that can interfere with a flight, as FT members know, that missing a transplant due to WX or MX would be far worse than missing a wedding or Bar Mitzvah.
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Old Jun 28, 18, 10:21 am
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Thanks for the great advice, folks. My friend has a very complicated situation involving three transplant centers and different time windows with each. Living in St. Louis right now is not practical for him. He does plan on living near a different center in a couple of months if he has not had the transplant by then.
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Old Jun 28, 18, 9:12 pm
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Without asking for details or invading anyone's privacy I am going to assume your friend has the need for more than 1 organ and very few transplant centers are able to transplant more than 1 critically necessary organ in the same operation. Only a handful of centers are attempting say, a combination heart and liver transplant for example. I am not saying this is the situation but I am in the medical field so am aware of how complex transplant medicine and surgery can be.
I do hope your friend has encouraging news very soon and can arrive in time wherever that may be.
Sounds like a very high stakes situation and although I do not know either of you I wish you all the best and for a successful outcome.
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Old Jun 28, 18, 9:27 pm
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Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
Thanks for the great advice, folks. My friend has a very complicated situation involving three transplant centers and different time windows with each. Living in St. Louis right now is not practical for him. He does plan on living near a different center in a couple of months if he has not had the transplant by then.
Does he know that transplant "shopping" - going from center to center to try to get higher priority - can backfire? Many of the lists are national databases now, and when the same name and needs show up from multiple centers, well, it's frowned on.
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Old Jun 28, 18, 9:51 pm
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I think I would move into one of those extended stay hotels if I knew an opportunity could be available in the near future. Best of luck to your friend Dhuey.
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Old Jun 28, 18, 10:16 pm
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
Does he know that transplant "shopping" - going from center to center to try to get higher priority - can backfire? Many of the lists are national databases now, and when the same name and needs show up from multiple centers, well, it's frowned on.
My friend is very honest and is above board with each
center hes dealing with. Two of the three are part of the same organization.
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