A Mechanical Heart

My brother has a mechanical heart.

It is weird to even just say that.  So, let me back up a bit and catch you up.

Tuesday Lee ended up being sedated and put on the ventilator.  He spiked a fever, so he was also under an ice blanket (a blanket that they run cold water through to cool the body down, sometimes ice packs are put on top of this blanket to help bring the temp down even more.).  We were told Tuesday that he might not make it through the night.

He stayed pretty much out of it on Wednesday – on purpose, they wanted/needed him to be sedated while he was on the ventilator as each time he would surface, he’d fight the vent.  Also on Wednesday his fever broke, and then came back.  And then broke again.  It was decided that they would do the Right Heart Cath, no matter what!! on Thursday.

Thursday.  Lee’s fever came back but stabilized.  The docs decided not to do the right heart cath but to just proceed with the operation for the LVAD the next day.  They did discover that he is allergic to one of the meds that the surgeon wanted to use.  And, thank God for the surgeon who was willing to do the surgery.  Since it was such a high risk operation, apparently several turned down the opportunity.

Friday.  He has his surgery today.  About five hours in we got the report that he was doing so very well!  He was still open and on the table, but they had installed the device and were watching the heart respond.  They were also doing dialysis to cleanse his blood of toxins and meds. Yay!  This is great news.

About two hours later they came back and told us that the right side of his heart didn’t hold up when they put the LVAD on, so they had to go ahead and install an RVAD (if LVAD stands for left ventricle assisted device, guess what the RVAD stands for?  You got it! Right ventricle assisted device.)  They were still doing dialysis, but Lee was doing very good and it would be a few more hours.

victory

The next update we got was right at 2 hours later and he had survived the surgery!! I had left the hospital by that time and dad’s text finished with “Victory!” They will monitor him closely for his vitals to stabilize and for any internal bleeding.  Mom and dad got to see him briefly, and mom said that it was amazing, his hands were warm.  Lee’s hands haven’t been warm for ages, with the lack of blood flow, they were always cold.  So, if nothing else, we have physical proof that he has blood pumping though his body.

Now, he’ll have a very rough weekend, but, what a blessing.  He will wear a couple of devices to keep his heart pumping and he has to plug in to recharge every night.  But, having batteries to recharge means that he gets to come home! No, we don’t have a release date, but if he starts to heal, he gets to come home to finish healing.

Now, I know you are all wondering, so here’s your medical lesson:

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This is an LVAD – it’s bigger than you think.

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This is the internal and external picture showing how it works. We have four fail-safes on it in case of power failure or a short circuit.

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Thanks to the Mayo Clinic, you all will be the most educated people out there!

Keep in mind, because the blood from the left and right side of the heart can’t co-mingle, Lee will have two of these in his chest pumping his heart for him.

Oh! And, he was approved for transplant!! He has to recover from this surgery, have two teeth pulled (they are decaying and pose a risk of infection) and has to conquer the infection he has that the doctors can’t identify (and Lee is on the four most powerful antibiotics there are and the infection is still present… What’s up with that?!?).  Once those requirements are met, then he will be placed on the transplant list. This is good news guys!

Thanks for being there for this journey with me!  I’m sure there will be more.  And, I have to tell you all about Mr. T totally wiping out on his bike, and the fact that he needed stitches, but by the time someone agreed with me on it, it was too late.  I have pictures!! 🙂 Tomorrow we are going to meet Graced By Emilie’s new baby brother, and then going to see the Broadway musical Wicked, followed by a stop at the hospital to see Lee!

Have a great weekend!!!

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16 thoughts on “A Mechanical Heart

  1. Pingback: A Year Later | Did That Just Happen Blog

  2. Wow! What a roller coaster ride Lee and your family have been through. It sounds like there is still some twists and turns in the future but at least it is on the right track and heading in the right direction! Keeping him and your family in my thoughts!

  3. Just seeing the this today. I am so glad the surgery went well. I hope the new heart is taking (???) well and that he will be out of the woods sooner rather than later. It must be exhausting for you.
    I might have seen that show – or slept through it. A few years back my wife got free tickets from a friend for a couple of musicals. I did make it through either one. What can I tell you?

    • Lol, we love musicals! And Wicked was awesome! I love the behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz, it was awesome!
      Lee is worse. He has had his chest opened up 3 times in two days, and they currently have just left it open and have it packed in order to stop the bleeding. He is also on an Ecmo. Which is used when there are heart and lung issues and medicine and the ventilator don’t work, so this machine is oxygenating his body and breathing for him. The good thing is that since they are bypassing his lungs, the lungs have had time to heal.

      • Yes, it’s good news and bad news and yes, I think that is the way it will go for him. I was in Dallas Saturday for the theater and before the show started I got the text that he was out of surgery. Mom and dad never sent another text to let us know that they took him right back, so when I showed up hours later, he was just getting back to his room. It was awful to see him like that. Bless his heart. Thank goodness he’s sedated and won’t remember most of this, if any.

    • We are so very happy with the success so far!! It’s hard being told over and over again he might not make it, but he keeps beating the odds! It’s greatness!! T is doing better, but man he’s all kinds of busted up! And we’ve had these tickets to Wicked for months, I’m so very glad we get to use them!! We are so stoked! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

  4. Oh….and when Lee is feeling better and can actually laugh – tell him I installed something that looks EXACTLY like that LVAD in my bathroom this last summer! 😛

  5. Oh my gosh! What a wild ride you have all been on! I’m so thankful he pulled through, but I’m still praying and still sending virtual hugs all I can.

    Since you’re going that way – give Erica and her clan good wishes and hugs from me too. Never too many hugs to go around! I have plenty to spare! 🙂

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