Welcome to our CaringBridge website. This is Rose, and we are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting. We are adding the original posts via text, because many are asking how he got to this point. It is easier this way because frankly every 6 hours changes and we really can't remember how we got here! Don had a heart attack on Christmas night. From there we found out that he would need open heart surgery to fix multiple blocked arteries. They thought maybe 4 or 5. In the end, Don had 6 bypasses that were required. The first evening after surgery he developed a fever, kidneys shut down, and the bypasses essentially were not viable, meaning the blood was not flowing through the heart properly. Emergency surgery was required to open him back up and try to save the grafts that were put in. At least save the three main failures. He made it through two open heart surgeries and then the placement of a device to keep his heart working until he could be taken in helicopter to UCLA. At UCLA they immediately tried to place stents in the blocked arteries to help save at least one side of the heart. Please read below as to what happened next.
December 31, 2016 Good morning everyone. It is a miracle Don made it through another 6 hour procedure once he got to UCLA. The interventional cardiology team did everything they could to repair the heart and they were successful in some ways and not in others. The right side is now working pretty well, but the left grafts were clotting, so they increased heparin, but told us this morning the left side is not working good. So he will be on the ECMO for 5-7 days and if lungs and kidneys return to normal, he will get an LVAD and It is basically a bridge to get to a heart transplant. You can resume normal life with the LVAD while waiting on transplant, and can have it for years if need be. Sorry the the technicalities but some family and friends want the technical information. Impossible to communicate with so many people praying for him in multiple formats.
So now for the good news, neurologically they woke him up this morning and he can move his arms and legs. Of course he cannot open his eyes and is intubated but when he hears our voice he nods his head and moves back and forth. He knows we are here and he is aware that a virtual village has been praying for a miracle and that our prayers have been answered. Don is a very spiritual person and is busy praying all day long for everyone. As he was awaiting his own first bypass he was praying a rosary for another family member who has terminal cancer. So when we say thank you for your prayers, we mean it. It is not just something we say, it is something he lives. We have a long road in front of us but he is obviously a fighter and we thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We will do our best to keep you informed. He is at the absolute best place we could hope for. Last night Steve said it is possible that our family could receive two miracles from this place? (Referring to being here with Jeffrey and his health) and the answer is yes! It is possible we can receive two miracles. Talk soon. Love Rose
January 1, 2016 Good Evening and Happy New Year,
I'm not sure where to begin other than to say we continue to have hope. Many complications are arising and it is a tenuous decision making process as we begin to determine his candidacy for future devices or a heart. There are so many considerations and hurdles we are trying to get over that suffice it to say he is fighting. We are supporting.
Tomorrow morning they will open him back up and place a bilateral VAD device. ( ventricular assistive device) He could not get his right ventricle to be viable enough to support a device that would take him home by a more direct route. Meaning a one and done surgery. This device allows him time for the right ventricle to come back and take over so that a future device that can leave the hospital would work. (Have to have one ventricle working) Don will have to stay here at UCLA in the cardiac transplant ICU while recovering and the idea would be that he could move his body (currently restrained on the ecmo device), he could eventually take the ventilator off, and wake up to heal. This could take one month, it could take six months. His team is simply somewhat of a dream team from heaven.
This team has seen people just as sick make it out of here. We are looking at a long road, and one where they are assessing our family also as to whether we are candidates that can handle him. We've had informal psyche evals. More to come. We assured them that between his family of caregivers, and a community of family and friends that offer support to us, that he is "worth" their effort and resources. Please pray for Don and his surgeons tomorrow as he will need every bit of his own strength and the strength that comes from prayer. The chief transplant surgeon said to Jane last night that he would like her to not focus on the trees in front her, but to focus on the horizon, and visualize him sitting at the next family holiday. So that's what we are doing. Focusing on the horizon. Love to all, from us, Rose