A patient wait: Parker man still on transplant list after 10 months

Alan Lammle staying in hotel next to Minnesota hospital

Posted 2/4/16

Holed up in a hotel next door to University of Minnesota Medical Center, Alan Lammle spends his days surfing the Internet, watching TV, reading books and waiting.

Lammle is in his 10th month of being on the waiting list for a pancreas transplant. …

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A patient wait: Parker man still on transplant list after 10 months

Alan Lammle staying in hotel next to Minnesota hospital

Posted

Holed up in a hotel next door to University of Minnesota Medical Center, Alan Lammle spends his days surfing the Internet, watching TV, reading books and waiting.

Lammle is in his 10th month of being on the waiting list for a pancreas transplant. And it's an anxious wait.

“You're waiting for the call, but you've got to keep your mind busy so you're not like: 'Is it going to come now?'” said Lammle, 54, of Parker.

He and his wife, Amy Simons, have spent years researching pancreatitis, the condition with which Lammle was diagnosed in 2008. A “glob of triglycerides” traveled to a duct to his pancreas, blocking it and causing severe pancreatitis, Simons said. He was put into a medically induced coma for a month and has had several pancreatic attacks, resulting in Type 1 diabetes. Lammle has only 3 percent of his pancreas remaining and was told in 2011 that he would need a transplant.

Since around Thanksgiving, Lammle has been No. 1 on the pancreas transplant waiting list. Due to a number of factors, the delay has been much longer than expected. He and his wife expected to get the coveted call before Christmas. As they wait for a pancreas to become available, the bills continue to add up, and Lammle and Simons are counting on the kindness of strangers to help out.

A fund for Lammle has been established at HelpHOPELive.org; go to https://helphopelive.org/campaign/8797. The fundraising relies on donations of items like sports memorabilia or tickets for events; the items are sold and the proceeds go to the beneficiary of the account. The funds will not only pay for their hotel stay and expenses, but also crucial and expensive medications once Lammle has his transplant. Because they need to be close to the hospital in Minnesota in case the call comes in, they are unable to do in-person fundraising events in the Parker area.

A special algorithm weighs the needs and situations of patients on the transplant list, and takes into account tissue and blood types. It determines “who gets called and what the order is,” Simons said. Those who need both a pancreas and kidney get first priority, for example. Simons points out that the absence of a pancreas is “not a life or death situation like with a heart or lung,” and that finding a perfect match is sometimes about being selective. They want a healthy pancreas that will last Lammle the rest of his life, instead of one that lasts 10-12 years and would require him to get back on the transplant list.

There are several factors that need to align: a donor must have the correct blood type — in this case A or O — and tissue type and be within a certain body-mass index range. The organ must be transplanted into Lammle's body within 13 hours of being removed from the donor, and viability testing must be done before that happens, Simons said.

Although he's not on his deathbed, the discomfort is significant and abdominal pain comes and goes. Due to his pancreatitis, Lammle has no digestive control and has developed an inability to feel full, so he's constantly hungry.

“I would not want to have anybody go through what I've gone through,” he said. “I wouldn't put this on my worst enemy.”

Until the call comes in, he whiles away the hours, binge-watching shows like “Dr. Who” and “The Walking Dead.” Lammle recently went to the Mall of America, only his second trip outside of his hotel room since November. But inevitably, his thoughts turn back to his impending surgery, whenever that might be.

“I really want to get this done and get home,” he said.

To donate money or an item to sell, e-mail amyjanes@aol.com or click here to donate to his HelpHOPELive account.

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