On 6/7/2013, Duane started his journey towards a 2nd chance at life (or 5th, 6th, or 7th depending on who's counting) by choosing to pursue a heart transplant. This journey will start with a temporary assist device called an LVAD and progress to what we hope to be a heart transplant and a long life.
We've created this site to keep friends and family updated. Please feel free to Read My Story below to see the background story on how we got here.
We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement during this time when it matters most.
Dear Family & Friends,
Some of you know the full story of Duane's illness and progress, others do not. We are using this means to fill in the blanks.
Duane has been having various health problems starting February of this year (2013). It started with bronchitis which he was able to be treated for and cured mid Feb. Then in April, he was hospitalized in Fargo for 12 days for a gallstone and resulting gallbladder surgery which was also completed successfully.
Because of his weak heart, both of these issues caused a lot of stress on his body. He was retaining fluid making him unable to lay down which caused trouble breathing. This also made sleeping difficult with lots of sleep interruptions.
Duane was hospitalized in Sisseton over Memorial Day weekend and they removed almost 20 lbs of fluid from his body. While home on oral meds he continued to have the same problems with fluid retention, trouble breathing when laying down, and poor sleep.
The Heart Failure unit in Fargo, where Duane has been a patient of since his last heart attack, made an appointment for him on Monday June 3rd (2013) to visit the University of Minnesota Heart Clinic in Minneapolis to review his case and discuss alternative treatments. As a result, he was checked in to the hospital for an evaluation.
After a few days of observation, it was evident that his current pill based medications were no longer effectively treating his symptoms. Duane's body was responding well to IV based medications to maintain his heart function, breathing, sleeping and overall blood flow to his organs, but these are not medications that would normally be long term options. While he has the option of going home with the IV medications, this option is not known to prolong life and would sustain him weeks to months, not years.
His current option is a heart transplant and he is currently being evaluated for this option. Once evaluation is complete, he will be put on a heart transplant list. The current estimated wait time for Duane's blood type in the midwest is 2-3 years. While there is no way to predict the timing of this, we also are aware the timing is not something within our control.
Given Duane's current response to medication, the University is offering an option to bridge the time until transplant with a heart assist pump. The Left Ventricle Assist Device (LVAD) would consist of open heart surgery. A pump would be installed internally that would basically do the pumping work of the heart sending oxygen enriched blood throughout his body (left heart function). His heart would still function to send blood to his lungs to receive oxygen (right heart function) but would be given a rest from delivering blood to the rest of his body. This option is offered specifically to prolong life as a Bridge-To-Transplant (BTT).
Robin and Debbie had the opportunity to sit in on LVAD support groups and have met several individuals that are living with this device or have had it at one time and are now heart transplant recipients. This option is very promising as most patients are able to return to a normal quality of life living and working at home while they await heart transplant.
Duane has made the decision to proceed with this surgery with the support and love of his family. It will be a long road for all of us but we welcome the opportunity for this journey and have every faith in the doctors as well as in God.
We have set up this CaringBridge site so that all of you may follow our progress on this journey. Prayers and words of support are most welcome.
LVAD surgery is scheduled for Monday June 10th, 2013. Let the adventure begin!
Thank you in advance for your love and support.
Debbie, Duane, Robin, Ryan & Jenni and their families