University of Pennsylvania Health System

Lung Transplant Update | Penn Medicine

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Five Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

The holiday season is a wonderful time for celebration and reflection. But sometimes, amidst the hustle and bustle, stress can threaten to steal the joy that’s typically associated with this time of year.

Whether it's about health concerns, holiday preparations or house guests, it’s important to be proactive in managing stress so you and your loved ones are able to enjoy yourselves and you keep up your mental wellbeing.

Here are some suggestions from the American Psychiatric Association to help you successfully navigate the challenges of the holiday season:

1. Take time for yourself

When you take time to take care of yourself, everyone benefits. For some, that means taking a long walk; for others, it means treating yourself to a massage or listening to your favorite music. All of us need some time to recharge our batteries. By slowing down you will actually have more energy to accomplish your goals.

2. Volunteer

Find a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter, where you and your family can volunteer. Participating in a giving tree or an adopt-a-family program may help you put your own holiday struggles in perspective. Penn's Transplant House is always looking for volunteers, especially during the holiday season. Call Kirsten King at 215-662-4540 to learn how you might be able to help.

3. Set realistic expectations

No Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or other holiday celebration is perfect. View missteps as opportunities to demonstrate flexibility and resilience. A lopsided tree or a burned brisket doesn’t have to ruin your entire holiday; rather, it might just create a unique family memory.

4. Remember what's important

Holiday advertising can make us forget what the holiday season is really about. When your holiday expense list is running longer than your monthly budget, scale back. Remind yourself that what makes a great celebration is loved ones – not store-bought presents, elaborate decorations or gourmet food.

5. Seek support

Talk about your concerns with your friends and family. Getting things out in the open can help you navigate your feelings and work toward a solution. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, consider contacting your lung transplant social worker, Chris Erickson, to find strategies to address your worries. Chris can be reached at 215-662-4575 or

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving: The Perfect Time to Say “Thank You”

The holiday season is often a time for us to reflect on how the year unfolded and look forward to what the coming year may bring. For lung transplant recipients, Thanksgiving presents a special occasion to express gratitude for the gift of life made possible by the generosity of organ donors and their families.

A Difficult Thank You

Writing to the family of your organ donor can be tough. It may be hard to find the right words to express your gratitude and describe just what the gift of life has meant to you and your family. Knowing that while you may be celebrating the gift of receiving your transplant, someone else will be remembering a loss makes it even more challenging. Donor families find these letters very meaningful; a simple thank you is all it takes to help a stranger grieve.

Getting Started

If you aren't sure where to start, Gift of Life recommends the following as a guideline for your letter:
  1. Include only your first name and only the first names of your family members (if you choose to include them).
  2. Acknowledge the donor family's loss and thank them for their gift.
  3. Discuss your family situation such as marital status, children or grandchildren. 
  4. Describe the type of transplant you received. (One donor may have benefited many people.)
  5. Use simple language. 
  6. Avoid complex medical terms. Don't give too much detail about your medical history.
  7. Describe how long you waited for a transplant. What was the wait like for you and your family?
  8. Explain how the transplant has improved your health and changed your life. Did you return to work, school or accept a new job? Did you celebrate another birthday? Did your son or daughter marry? Did you become a parent or grandparent?
  9. Share your hobbies or interests.
  10. Consider omitting any religious comments, since the religion of the donor family is unknown.
If writing a letter doesn’t feel like a comfortable option for you, Gift of Life also offers an opportunity to electronically send a note to the family of your donor by visiting the Family Support Services web page and completing the online form. A third option is to mail a nice thank card to the family of your donor with a brief acknowledgement of their loss and expression of gratitude for their gift.

The Correspondence Process

Correspondence to donor families should be mailed to the Gift of Life Family Support Services team. It will be reviewed by them before being sent to the donor family. The Family Support Services team is a group of specialists who help guide the donor families through the many complex emotions associated with donation, loss and grieving. Their relationship with donor families is similar to your relationship with your lung transplant coordinator. They are able to anticipate support needs that an individual or family may have.

The Gift of Life Donor Program’s privacy policy is in place to make sure everyone is sensitively supported throughout this communications process. This policy prohibits the following information from being shared in recipient correspondence:
  • Your address, city or phone number 
  • Your physician's name 
  • The name or location of the hospital where you received your transplant 
If any such information is included in your letter, Family Support Services will edit the letter prior to forwarding it to your donor family. Should Gift of Life have questions about the content of your letter, the Family Support Services team will contact you directly.

Letters or cards should be sent to:

Family Support Services
Gift of Life Donor Program
401 N. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123

What Happens After the Letter Is Mailed?

Every family manages grief and the donation experience differently. It's not possible to predict whether you will receive a response from your donor’s family. For some families, corresponding with the recipients of their loved one’s donation is comforting. Others may prefer not to write back for personal reasons. In either case, “thank you” is as important to say as it is to hear. No matter when you were transplanted, this is a great time to express your gratitude.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Penn Transplant House Wish List

Being far from home when you need medical care is never easy. When that happens during the holidays, it can be even more challenging. If you’d like to help us offer additional hospitality to the guests at the Clyde F. Barker Transplant House, we’re making it simple. Donations will be accepted on Monday, December 8th at the Penn Transplant Institute’s 2014 Patient Holiday Party. Just look for the Penn Transplant House table and add your donation to the collection.

“These items will help us to offer additional hospitality and care to our guests,” said Transplant House manager, Kirsten King. “Donations like this really help us transform the space from a house to a home, and that’s particularly important during the holidays.”

If you have any questions about the holiday wish list, Kirsten can be reached at 215.662.4540 or Donations can also be delivered directly to the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House at 3940 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

The Transplant House Wish List

Here’s a list of items that would be helpful for patients whose transplant journey takes them hundreds of miles from home:
  • Bathroom scales (12—one per guest room)
  • Bellman’s luggage cart
  • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions (Lifetime, Newsweek, National Geographic, Martha Stewart, etc.)
  • Playstation 3 with four controllers and games
  • Quilts (twin or queen-size beds, in neutral, solid color or paisley print) 
    • Pottery Barn: Kennedy Patchwork Quilt & Shams 
    • Pottery Barn: Malin Patchwork Quilt & Shams 
    • Pottery Barn: Claire Patchwork Quilt & Shams 
    • Pottery Barn: Pick-Stitch Quilt and Shams (porcelain blue and flagstone) 
  • Aluminum foil—heavy duty, large rolls 
  • Non-stick baking sheets—Wilton or Calphalon
  • Cake/cupcake storage containers—Rubbermaid 
  • Coffee mugs—Pier 1 Imports Metallic Geo Mug Set
  • Dish racks (3)—Polder Model KTH-615, four-piece advantage dish rack system 
  • Disposable coffee cups with lids—Dixie or Solo brands 
  • KitchenAid black box graters with storage (3)
  • Knife sharpener—Chef’s Choice Hybrid 250 Diamond Hone 
  • Madesmart expandable cutlery storage 
  • Pyrex Storage Plus 20-piece container set with color lids 
  • Liquid measuring cups 
  • Heavy-duty Saran Wrap
  • Serving dishes (large bowls and platters)—Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, etc (neutral/ earth tones, and various sizes) 
  • Toaster—Frigidaire Widemouth Professional, two or four-slot
  • Tongs, basting brush, cooking thermometer, etc.
  • Wire cooling racks 
  • Zip-lock bags
  • Nightlights for guest room bathrooms (12)—Forever Glo LED Nite Lite 
  • Hampers (12)—collapsible, cotton, 12”x 12”x 30”
Thank you for including the Transplant House in your holiday gift giving. We look forward to seeing you on December 8.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

You're Invited to the Transplant Patient Holiday Party!

Before your calendars start filling up with holiday celebrations, we wanted to make sure that you pencil in the 2014 Penn Transplant Institute’s patient holiday party.

The holiday party will take place on Monday, December 8 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Smilow Center for Translational Research, 3400 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Parking will be available in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

We hope your schedules will allow you to join us for a lovely evening of fun, food and celebration. For those of you who haven’t yet joined us for a holiday party, one unique aspect of it is the guest list. In addition to pre- and post-lung transplant patients, our guest list includes patients who are connected to Penn through heart, liver, kidney and pancreas transplantation – making the evening a great opportunity to see friends you’ve made along your transplant journey and make some new ones. Plus, you never know who else will turn up – there may even be some cameo appearances from Penn Lung Transplant team members!

This year we’re adding a photo booth to the festivities, so if you’d like a snapshot souvenir come prepared for the camera. The photo booth candid shots will be used on the Penn Transplant Institute’s Facebook page. Be sure to find us on Facebook before the party, so you can share your snapshot with your friends and family.

In addition to the festivities and delicious complimentary food, there will be an opportunity to share some holiday cheer with the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House. If you’d like to drop off a donation by check, look for the Transplant House table where a team member will be to accept your donation. Checks can be made payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. Please put "Transplant House" on the memo line. Stay tuned for more details next week on how you can help the Transplant House this holiday season.

To attend the patient holiday party, kindly R.S.V.P. by November 28 by calling 1-800-789-PENN (7366). For more information about the party, please contact Denise DuPont, manager of Outreach and Communications, at 215-873-7983 or

We look forward to seeing you on December 8!