Dinner Fundraiser, Heart Recipient Interview!
Hello everyone, and welcome to this month's blog post! I can't believe summer's already here, but I've been looking forward to this for forever! Anyway, let's get started.
Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser
So this month, I went to a spaghetti dinner fundraiser in Pontiac, which was for a woman who was waiting for a kidney. She was so gracious and kind to everyone, and put a smile on everyone's faces. I was happy to be there. The food was great, and they had vendors all over selling cool things! I have to say, our table was definitely the coolest with free candy, chocolate, wrist bands, and other awesome accessories. I was with Bridget Green, and together we educated tons of people, so overall it was a success!
Heart Recipient Interview
Also, I interviewed a heart recipient this month, which was absolutely amazing! She's actually my mom's coworker's sister, but I'm not going to reveal her name for privacy reasons. I learned her story, and the struggles she went through. Here's her story:
Me: Can you tell me more about yourself and what your experience with organ transplantation has been like?
Heart Recipient: So this is how I ended up needing a heart: I had no idea that one of the drugs that I was taking for my chemotherapy could cause heart damage. And, my medical oncologist passed away shortly after my treatment was over, I think. And, I got handed off to another doctor, and long story short, nobody really followed up on the condition of my heart. And it came to light in July that there was an issue with my heart. I was treated as best they could treat me, but I have a tendency to have low blood pressure, but most of the drugs they give you lower your blood pressure. My blood pressure is already low, so I wasn't responding properly to the medications. And they couldn't give me more medications because they didn't want my blood pressure to be even lower. So, I went to a couple of different doctors, and one said that that was the best they could do. I had no energy, I had no quality of life. I just sort of slumped around the house. I'd go downstairs in the morning and just stay downstairs all day because I had no energy to go back up the steps. So one of my neighbors recommended that I go to the cardiology department at the University of Pennsylvania hospital, and the doctor just about dropped dead himself when he saw me! He said he basically had never seen a patient that sick that was still walking around. So after he examined be and did an echocardiogram, a couple of different tests and so on, he told me that I needed to be checked in to the hospital.
So my husband took me to the hospital and they gave me medication that improved my quality of life, and I had a better heart rate and better function of my heart. But he thought that I wasn't going to last to long, so he had his assistant start the paperwork for getting me a transplant. They had to do all these tests, probably 25-30 vials of blood had to be drawn, and all this stuff. At that point I had a direct line into one of the arteries in my neck, so I didn't have to sit there with my arm poked. They could fill the vials with this catheter in my neck. By the end of May, the cardiologist at Penn decided I was viable for a heart transplant so I could put on the list. They said it could be a really long wait. The only advantage I had to get a heart faster was that I was small. I weighed about a 125 pounds, and I'm 5 feet 4 inches tall. Most people who needed heart transplants are much heavier and bigger, so if they got a heart that was small it wouldn't be able to support them. So because of that, I got my heart in July, so I was only waiting for about 10 weeks! My operation was about six hours, I think. It was about 6-8 weeks before I was able to go out on my own, like drive and stuff.
But I did have quite a few problems with rejection, though. The first year was not uneventful. They do a biopsy, to see if you're rejecting the heart. And it's an interesting procedure, because you're wide awake, and they cut a little slip of skin in one of the veins in your neck, and put this catheter in there with a camera. And then there's this wire with a tiny pair of scissors almost, and that goes down into your heart and they snip off a little piece of tissue. They take about four samples when they do that. They put them on slides and tell on the microscope if you're rejecting it. If you're rejecting, they have to give you different medicines and stuff.
Finally, probably about by my third year, they got the correct balance of the anti-rejection medicines And I've been good with what I've been taking for the last few years. And I'm healthy and feeling great now!
That's all for this month! Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next month.