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Matt’s Story

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Hello from San Francisco

Written Sep 6, 2012 6:02pm by Matt L'Herogan

I'm posting this from my room on the 10th floor of UCSF Medical Center.  I sure do feel a long way from home.  

When Sally and I came down to the city 2 weeks ago we thought it was for a scheduled appointment with my lung doctor specialist, Harold Collard, and a first appointment with Lung Transplant to begin the process of getting me tested and approved for a transplant down the road.  My condition is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and there is no known cure.  For reasons unknown (that's the idiopathic part) my body started fighting a threat and never turned off the defenses when the threat was gone.  The result is scarring in the bed lining of the lungs in the aveoli which are the little sacs where gas is exchanged between the lungs and the bloodstream.

So we met first with Dr. Jeff Golden of the transplant team on August 23rd and he was concerned enough about my condition to want me admitted to the hospital to immediately begin the transplant listing tests.  Many tests showed me to be a good candidate, but one was problematical.  A left heart catheterization uncovered heavy blockage (90%) in my main artery.  This is an artery coming directly from the aorta which splits in two to the front and back of the heart to supply the heart muscles.  My blockage is before the fork and is considered enough of a high risk that UCSF has never done a combined lung transplant and heart bypass with the blockage as severe as mine and in my location.  Lucky me.

So the last week or so has been spent trying to find a transplant center that could take me on.  We may have found one in UCLA.  They've done this combo before and are evaluating me for a thumbs up.

If you know anyone who has been transplanted, you know that centers are very picky about candidates.  As someone put it to me, if they choose wrong and a recipient dies, there are three people who lose: the recipient, the donor's family and the next person on the list waiting for lungs.  So they are looking at what they call the psyco/social aspect very carefully to make sure I will have the support to properly take care of this incredibly precious gift.  It is hard to wait.

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Latest Journal Update

final entry

Sadly, I make this final entry on Matt's behalf. For any of you who may not know, Matt died on December 27, without apparent pain after a lovely Christmas spent with family.

I know that he was deeply grateful and very touched by your outpouring of love and support for our family as we went on this journey of hope, struggle, growing knowledge and growing love. Matt never despaired and was kind and humorous even during his most difficult physical challenges. Guthrie and I are helped in our sadness by the knowledge you have given us of so many good and caring people in our little world. We know you will keep Matt in your hearts.

We will be planning a wake/celebration of Matt and will try to keep you posted.

My love, gratitude and wishes for a rich and memorable 2013 to you all-- Sally L'Herogan