Before an organ transplant, patients may be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) for primary failure of the organ for which they are awaiting transplant. However, they may also require admission for acute illness unrelated to primary organ failure. A severe infection, such as the one experienced by a patient reported by Hansen et al, will not only necessitate hospitalization but also temporarily alter the patient’s status on the waiting list for transplant. Being placed on the waiting list for an organ symbolizes hope for a procedure that is expected to be life-saving.

Any change in status on “the list” triggers a highly emotional response from patients and their families. The status change can be perceived as a loss of hope, even when prognosis for the acute problem may be favorable. It is important for members of the health care team to...

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