1,400 Families and 9 Years of Stories at THoC

House guests on a caregiver walk with our Transplant Social Worker. Visiting the cherry blossoms at Wade Oval and smelling the fresh air was just what Connie, caregiver to her husband and lung recipient Dennis, said she needed.

It can be difficult to measure the impact this House has on the guests who stay with us. How do you tell the full impact on a worried caregiver of a walk around the neighborhood with our transplant social worker? What about time spent sharing stories of life back home over a community dinner and the warm smile and receptive ear of a staff member after a hard day at the hospital? Or how to explain to someone who has not had to wait for months or years for transplant the complex emotions patient and caregiver feel when they ring the bell?

After all, as our guests often say, the transplant journey is a life-changing experience only those who are on it can fully understand. Every family’s challenges and needs are unique. Sources of comfort, relief, and hope are too.

Our guests speak to the significance of these moments better than anyone and their individual experiences tell a story that numbers alone cannot. Transplant House has provided a home-away-from-home to over 1,400 organ transplant families since we opened our doors on July 20, 2014. Each of those families has an experience that is wholly their own – a transplant journey defined by ups and downs, moments of celebration and grief, low points of fear for a loved one and high points of hope and gratitude for the gift of life given through transplant. That number, as big as it is, only tells part of the story.

Among those families is Meagan and her mom, Jasmine. Jasmine stayed at Transplant House for 3 months in 2020 while Megan recovered from an emergency liver transplant in the hospital. Both returned this year so that Meagan could receive the kidney transplant she had been waiting 3 years for. Meagan knows better than anyone that whether the transplant was long-awaited or sudden, the road to recovery is a hard one and the time it takes to heal is measured minute by minute, and step by step. Her home away from home at Transplant House made that road “so much easier,” she says. “People here are so kind, caring, compassionate. It’s so nice and homey-feeling. The Transplant House has made me feel like a longtime friend or part of the family.”

It is not only patients who benefit from the home and community they find at Transplant House. Frank came from New York as the caregiver to his wife, Patricia, who needed a heart transplant. While she was in the hospital pre- and post-transplant, Frank found comfort gathering each morning in our community space with other caregivers. He would have a cup of coffee and talk with guests and staff while waiting for the hospital shuttle. In the evenings, he made sure another guest, Wyvette, returned safely to her apartment. Frank and Wyvette grew to become friends, each with a spouse facing the uncertainties of transplant and recovery. They formed a fast friendship riding the shuttle together – one that continues even now as both families have returned home to different states, separated by hundreds of miles, but bound together by their similar experiences as caregivers.

And there is Matthew and Delinda, who have been staying at Transplant House since November of 2022. Matthew, a young intestinal recipient, has had a long journey. When he arrived in Cleveland, he was not even sure he would be listed. Now, he’s transplanted; but the road ahead is still uncertain. He and his mom can often be found grilling on the patio behind the Transplant House offices. For them, it is a way of carving out a space of normalcy 2,000 miles from their home in the Pacific Northwest. One warm evening in July at Transplant House, Delinda saw fireflies for the first time in her life.

There are thousands of such moments – large and small – that make up the day-to-day experiences of transplant patients and caregivers. Chance encounters with other guests who become lasting friends, a feeling of comfort and stability given by a place they can call home for as long as they need it regardless of their financial situation, and those unexpected moments of grace when a caregiver or patient is able to pause and, for a short time, step outside of the difficult journey they are on – these are just a few of them.

For nine years Transplant House has made so many of these moments possible. As we celebrate this anniversary with gratitude for the support of countless volunteers, financial supporters, dedicated board members, and partners at the hospitals and in the Greater Cleveland community, we also look ahead to years of many more such moments for the special families who call this place home.

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