Kevin Praska is a heart-lung post-transplant coordinator at Mayo Clinic. His care begins just after a patient receives their heart or lung transplant and continues for the entirety of their journey. In short, he and his colleagues help ensure that transplant recipients continue to stay healthy.
Part of Kevin’s job involves being on-call to notify patients when an organ has been matched with them. “Clearly, this is the best part of what I get to do,” he shares. “The range of responses is just incredible. Some people start to cry, some get almost giddy and don’t believe me, and some get short of breath and will tell me that they have to sit down.”
Being told your life is about to be saved by a generous stranger is clearly a life-changing moment. “It’s one of those things where people will never forget the moment they got that call. Patients always remember where they were and what they were doing,” says Kevin.
He also helps support transplant recipients by facilitating communication with their donor family, allowing them the opportunity to say thank you and share how their transplant has impacted their life.
“Everyone has an interesting story – transplantation changes the patient’s life. I see some really remarkable things, people with a desire to do so much more. And it doesn’t just benefit them, it benefits their family too.” He quickly goes on to share a story about a patient who received his transplant several years ago and was recently at a clinic visit with his two year-old son and pregnant wife – more lives created and impacted by the generosity of his donor.
Kevin and 19 of his colleagues from Mayo Clinic spent today volunteering at the Minnesota State Fair, educating people about organ and tissue donation and transplantation and encouraging fairgoers to register as donors. Kevin describes his work with his colleagues as a team effort, supporting patients along their transplant journey. “We’re like a family.”
Kevin relayed one interaction he had with a fairgoer. Upon asking a woman if she was interested in registering as an organ and tissue donor she replied, “I’m already signed up. Isn’t everybody?” He tells me, “What a great way to look at things – that donation is just something everyone should do.”
You can see more pictures of the staff from Mayo Clinic at our booth at the Fair today on our Facebook page.