Tired and failing, my brother's heart beat weakly to the final hours of crisis. Congestive heart failure, a diagnosis dreaded, had touched our family again. Lawrence needed a new heart.
Much sooner than expected, and deserving our exceptional, inexpressible appreciation and respect, a family somewhere in Colorado, possibly much like ours, was experiencing loss. And yet news of that loss, delivered late Saturday night, enabled Lawrence to live.
While the donor family is private and anonymous, we feel that they are very close to us, and we hope that we can be close to them as well in the universe of connection, purpose, and gratitude. We send them both condolence and thankfulness, admittedly an odd mixture. Through this loss to another family, and we grieve for them; through the passing of a young person who was considerate enough to donate their organs, Lawrence has a new opportunity to live. That life, its energy and potential, has been passed on to Lawrence.
Within this amazing opportunity, that has brought Lawrence a new future, comes myriad challenges. These are challenges of time and attention, and resources and will, and the skill and dedication of a vast group of medical professionals. Already the selflessness and competence of the hospital staff, the caregivers, the nurses, the doctors, and the surgeons has been a wonder to behold.
Below you will find the continuation of his heart transplant journey that represents an invitation to learn more of his story, and to accept the thankfulness of our whole family for any participation and assistance of time and resources that you can provide in this ongoing journey that we are calling New Heart, New Life. Here are three ways you can help:
1. Your word of encouragement, prayers, and well wishes.
2. Your donation to support the expense of the surgery and lengthy recovery.
A GoFundMe page has been set up at https://bit.ly/2zu1ryX
to assist with Lawrence's medical and ongoing care expenses.
3. Your willingness to share with your friends and family the challenges of his journey.
Day One of Transplant Surgery:
Still in scrubs after 7 hours of surgery, Dr. A walked calmly into the consultation room where six family members waited in vague uncertainty. The complexities and complications of heart transplant, mostly beyond our ability to grasp and understand, were just background noise to the concern we all were weighed down by. How is our brother, our son, our friend? Confidence began slowly to return when Dr. A sat down with a blank paper and three pens; black, blue, and red. A failing heart, enlarged, overworked, and tired to the point of failure, had just been removed and replaced by the same hands preparing us a simple diagram.
All of us, bound by blood and marriage, listened and looked on in measures of humility, amazement, and relief. A heart that was life to another human being hours earlier, now beat life into the body, and soul, and spirit of Lawrence.
"Five connections," said Dr A, as he drew a heart in black ink. Labeling the chambers, and the pathways, with arrows showing the direction of flow, Dr A casually picked up the red pen and began to make small marks around each of the five pathways that were removed and resown and restored to activity. Fascinated by the sequence, we each imagined the incredible process as Dr. A described a "needle about the size of an eyelash, and a thread smaller than a human hair." My brother's life hanging by, and restored by, a thread.
It's easy to speak of replacement, but the reality of being restored to health is where the challenge of this journey continues. Less than 24 hours after the 7-hour surgery, the months of recovery begin with the simple things: removing the breathing tube, restoring awareness, reducing blood loss, and working constantly against the body's natural rejection of a foreign, but highly functional heart.