Monday, December 6, 2010

Heart Transplant Update

You haven't heard from me in a while, and I promised I would keep you all updated so here is the latest.

God is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good! Our family was blessed with my sister's new heart on Monday, October 25, 2010. We send prayers of thanksgiving and comfort for the family who lost their loved one and chose to give the gift of life. We have been told that the heart came from Minnesota, and was a young, strong heart that had a trauma at death. I pray that the donor did not suffer any pain and that the Lord made her passing peaceful. Our family has been blessed with this generous gift because the young lady who passed on was an organ donor and let her loved ones know that wish. We know because of this gift, my sister will be able to fulfill the plans God has made for her life.

Our journey since the 25th has certainly been tumultuous. She started her surgery with two allergic reactions in the operating room that they couldn't determine the cause of. They started the surgery around 6:45pm. and we were able to finally see her at around 2:00 am on Tuesday, the 26th. She actually had color to her face. I've never seen her with pink cheeks! It was extremely emotional for me. Later in the day on Tuesday things started to turn bad. They were unable to get the volume of the heart to the levels they needed it to, so they continued pushing fluids, but that wasn't working and only succeeded in causing the rest of the cells to fill with fluid. by Tuesday night the new heart was in distress and they made the decision to go back into OR to reopen her chest to relieve some of the pressure the heart had from all the excess fluid and from the small chest cavity which didn't offer much space. They saw improvement so left the chest open and sent us back to ICU.

By Wednesday, the 27th, the new heart was failing and my sister was in liver and renal failure. They decided that there was a need to bring her back to surgery and put her on a heart and lung bypass machine called ECMO to try to let the new heart rest. They thought is was failing due to all of the excess fluid and if they could let it rest it would begin to work properly. Things continued to get worse and my sister became unresponsive (they had her sedated to ensure she didn't have pain, but they would wake her up to check brain activity and she would respond appropriately when asked to squeeze a hand or wiggle a toe). The were not getting the responses they needed from the new heart function and the liver and kidney function continued to decline. They were talking about the need for dialysis. They were trying to hold off to let her body have time to work though this, but it wasn't figuring it out.

On Thursday, the 28th, they found there was a problem in the cannula that drained the heart into the bypass machine. The also suspected that there was a problem with the connection of her body to the new heart, so back to the OR they went. The surgeons confirmed the obstructions of the heart at both areas they suspected. They were able to adjust the connections and immediately the cardiac output (the heart's function) doubled! This proved to be the most stressful and the most relieving of the days after the transplant. By Halloween there was enough improvement in the function of the heart and the rest of her bodies functions that they removed her from the heart/lung bypass and with the fifth and final surgery, closed everything up. She's been making steady progress every since.

The doctors and nurses that worked with her have told us and her how her recovery has been a miracle. We were very close to losing her and God's faithfulness to the prayers of those around us brought her to the place we are today. She's doing really well. She stays at the transplant house near the hospital and will until the end of January or beginning of February. She make great progress every day. She has lost all of the 60 pounds of fluid that she gained from the numerous liters they filled her system with, and she is up to 35 minutes on the treadmill for cardiac rehab. She feels good, and she is so happy.

God has surrounded us with an amazing support unit in our family, friends and those we haven't met. Our Thanksgiving was one celebrated with a different and truer understanding of the day. I look forward to the upcoming Christmas holiday and the celebration with my sister, family and friends. I am blessed to be a part of this journey and I am so proud of my courageous, and strong sister.

God Bless!