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So, I have to back up a few years to start this story...

Way back in 2006, my sweetie, Nancy, had a major heart attack. It was a left anterior descending blockage. Of course she was in denial about it and worked a full shift at the jail, I mean 55 year old women don't have heart attacks... right? That's what she thought. That left her on a medical retirement, with an ejection fraction (EF) of 25 to 20%. (normal is 55 to 70%)

We had 13 really good years together. I retired early in 2010 just to spend more time with her.

She had been having symptoms of congestive heart failure (CHF) for several years, but her cardiologist tweaked her meds and managed to keep her going.

This Spring things started to go down hill... shortness of breath, fluid retention... She was excited to get in on a research study on a new device to help stop the CHF, but after being prepped for surgery and having a right heart catheterization, her blood pressure in her heart and heart output were not within the accepted range to be in the study.

The doctors at that hospital transferred her to a different hospital for more help. Her EF was dropping, and was down to 10-15%. Since the first of June she has been home only 8 out of the first 76 days..

The doctors at Abbott Northwestern told her she had 2 choices... a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or a transplant. The LVAD would severely limit her lifestyle. She couldn't swim or kayak any more. The LVAD would require her to wear what amounts to 2 shoulder holsters of batteries and a fanny pack with a controller in it. ... Think of an LVAD as a high tech, in-line, booster pump for your heart.

Nancy elected to do the transplant...

She finally came home on IV meds because she was in too good of shape to be in the hospital, but was dependent on the IV meds.

She was home about 3 weeks and we were beginning to get used to being home. Labor Day was here and we enjoyed the holiday.

At 5:25 the phone rang. It was the transplant coordinator from Abbott. They told her that they had located a matching donor heart, and she should be there (160 miles away) in the morning!! We had GO BAGS already packed. We left home at 2:00 AM Tuesday morning and got there before 6:00 am..

Tuesday was a blur of doctors, nurses, staff, case workers, and transplant specialists. They took blood samples, did x-rays, and more tests....

At 2:45 AM Wednesday morning she went to surgery... As they were rolling her out the door one of the surgical nurses told Nancy that now she can celebrate 2 birthdays... her original in December, and her new heart birthday.... September 4

Why was that the best birthday present ever?

September 4th is MY birthday!!!

Best gift ever!!


Shes recovering nicely and feels better every day!



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I like the fact that you thought enough about us to share your personal story with us.
I hope you guys have many more years ahead you. :thumbup1gif:
 

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^^^^ What he said!

Yes, I would say that qualifies as the best birthday present ever. :good2:
 

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Wow, awesome for you two. Thanks for sharing that great story. Made my day, not to be in another thread but sure made me smile today:bigthumb:
 

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This is a pretty dang awesome story to read first thing on a sunny Sunday morning.

I hope Nancy and her new heart have many happy birthdays together! :good2:
 

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What a great story, thanks for sharing, may you enjoy many more years together. :good2:
 

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GREAT story and wonderful news :thumbup1gif:

Happy "Birthday" to both of you!!
 

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Great Birthday present. :bigthumb:

Thanks for posting and please continue with updates. :bigthumb:

and


A Happy Birthday to you and now to your wife and may she have many ,many more.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank You...

Wow, I can't believe what a great forum! Thank you for all you good wishes and support!

It's now been 4 days since Nancy's surgery and every day she gets a little stronger. On the second day, they had her out of bed and sitting in a comfy recliner 5 times. By the third day, she was eating real, but low sodium, foods. Today, they took the drainage tubes out of her chest.

She said the first 2 days were pretty rough, but it's getting better every day!!

She was part of an experimental study nicknamed, "heart in a box". A normal heart transplant involves the surgical removal of the donor heart, stopping it, packing it on ice, and shipping it. The window of time that the heart stays viable is fairly small, so the distance the heart can be shipped to the new recipient is short.... therefore the availability of acceptable matches is small too.

The "heart in a box" method of transport is waiting for final approval, but it involves a high tech method of transportation. The donor heart is removed for the donor, but it is kept beating with a blood supply and oxygen, It's packed in a high tech shipping create and because it's basically still "alive", the heart can be transported much longer distances, so the availability of acceptable matches is greater...

The miracles of modern medicine !!!

She sent me home to sleep and love up the cat, but I'm going back down there tomorrow and I'll tell Nancy about all your good wishes!

Thanks again!
 

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:bigthumb:great story---:birthday:to both of uns. modern medicine is great when it works--i know too how great it is-no heart transplant but many other transplants.
 
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