They come from different cities and towns. They represent all walks of life. But those circled up at this monthly support group are part of the same community. They are all familiar with organ transplant.
On the third Thursday of each month, IU Health patients and family members gather around noon for an hour to talk about their lives. For some, that means the hurt and anger of watching loved ones battle illness. For others it means grasping that they have a new lease on life.
Bob Dorman and Rich Cappa met in the group. Dorman received a liver transplant three and half years ago. Cappa received a liver transplant in March of 2012. Now the two play golf together and attend the 12:30 meetings to encourage others.
“The main purpose of the group is to have an opportunity to meet other transplant patients, share their stories or concerns, and get support from others who have been through the process,” said IU Health psychologist Rachel Holmes, facilitator for the group that meets at IU Health University Hospital. “I think it is helpful for patients to meet others who have been through transplant because the process - from getting sick through recovering from transplant - is long, stressful, and life-changing. There are unique challenges and struggles that transplant patients and their caregivers face, and it can be enormously helpful to hear from others who understand it,” said Holmes.
At a recent gathering, participants listened as a caregiver talked about the pain of watching his partner “shut down” – losing hope while he awaits a transplant. They offered encouraging words.
“Two years ago I never thought I’d be here today. Now I’m not as good as I’d like to be but I’m a whole lot better than I was before,” said Dennis Webble. They talk about insurance challenges and they talk about the emotional impact on family. They even talk about finding humor and making new friends.
“It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon,” said Dorman. “One of the things I’ve learned through it all is that you have to surround yourself with the love and support of family and good friends. We come to help others realize they aren’t alone.”
-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.