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Author Topic: Information on Transplants  (Read 9223 times)

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Dave Freas

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Information on Transplants
« on: February 13, 2010, 08:30:29 AM »

Hi all,

I'm working on a story involving a heart transplant recipient and I'd like to know approximately how long after the surgery would he be able from a medical standpoint to receive visitors.

Thanks.

Dave
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wonderactivist

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Re: Information on Transplants
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2010, 09:09:07 AM »

Probably within 12-24 hours (if they are close), depending on whether you mind his having a breathing tube.  My uncle waited 3 full days for visitors outside of family, but he was really able after 24 hours - it was his choice, he wated to be rid of some of the tubes and to feel more like himself.  Here's a page with the basics (reviewed by MDs):

http://yourtotalhealth.ivillage.com/open-heart-surgery.html?pageNum=5#5

and here's more detail:
http://www.uihealthcare.com/topics/medicaldepartments/cardiothoracicsurgery/openheartprep/index.html

Best wishes for an interesting recovery,

Lucie
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Dave Freas

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Re: Information on Transplants
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2010, 11:17:54 AM »

Wow, wonderactivist, that helps a lot!

The people visiting him are his executive secretary and her friend.  They have questions about just how he got his heart--they suspect the donor was murdered to make his heart available.

I was more thinking along the lines of how gowned and masked they would have to be to minimize infecting the recipient.  And how long he might be hospitalized while his anti-rejection medication regimen was adjusted to optimum.

The information in the sites you mentioned has opened up a couple alternative ways I can do things.

Thanks!

Dave
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Bob Mueller

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Re: Information on Transplants
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2010, 09:05:48 PM »

Dave, when my MIL got her transplant, there was only time my wife recalls having to gown or mask - I suspect that was in immediate post-op recovery, where only immediate family got to see her for maybe 5 minutes. I think it was 36 hours before I got to see her, but that was partly due to travel; we were living in Columbus, so I had to drive up to Cleveland. My wife, her sister, and their step-dad drove up during the surgery.

There was a special transplant ICU, where all transplant patients were, and visiting time there was very limited. It was for like a total of 15 minutes, every 1.5 hours or so. You could tell when it was getting close, as the transplant waiting room would get gradually packed, then we would all run for the doors. :)

Certainly things will also depend on your guy's condition prior to the transplant. My MIL had developed several other problems while she was waiting for her heart. She spent about 8 months on the list, and 6 of those were spent trying to get her healthy enough to handle the actual surgery. She was on an LVAD pump for all 8 months. During that time, she suffered a neurological stroke (fairly common with an LVAD) and an optical stroke (not so common), as well as several bouts with pancreatitis. Why did your guy need the heart? Virus? Congestive heart failure? What was his general health prior? Was he stuck in the hospital waiting, or was he able to get around on his LVAD outside of the hospital (not uncommon)?

My MIL had her transplant done at the Cleveland Clinic in 2000. Keep in mind that not all hospitals are certified to do transplants, and some of those that are, aren't certified to do hearts. Transplant departments aren't small. Aside from the hospital crews, there are the organ-procurement groups, all (I think) associated in some way with UNOS.

I'll answer any other questions that I can. I got to see Cleveland Clinic police bring an organ into the building while we were up there.
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Dave Freas

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Re: Information on Transplants
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2010, 02:59:26 PM »

Hi, Bob

Thanks for the info.

I'm not getting too specific with my transplant recipient's condition, but I see him as being a generally healthy man until he had a heart attack that revealed a previously undiagnosed congenital abnormality which precipitated the heart attack and will lead to his heart worsening faster than normal.  He's not at the top of the transplant list, but fairly high up (say top 10 to 15).  He is from a small town in eastern PA and the transplant takes place in Philadelphia.

I figure there are several ways I can keep him in the hospital for a month or more.  First, the previously mentioned trouble getting his anti-rejection medication regimen stabilized.  Or I can give him an infection (perhaps of his incision like my father had after his bypass surgery--he was in the hospital longer for that than for the surgery!).  Or . . . maybe I'll think of something else.

It isn't mandatory that his visitors gown and glove before visiting him, I just thought them donning those things might make a nice scene.  But I do want my recipient still in the hospital (or some kind of rehab or nursing care facility nearby) and not at home, so the two characters mentioned in my first post have to travel to the city to see him.

Dave
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Bob Mueller

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Re: Information on Transplants
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2010, 12:48:56 AM »

Post-op infections - especially in the transplant ward - are very common.

When my MIL got to Cleveland, there was a guy who arrived with similar issues the same day. It seemed like over the course of their stay, whatever happened to one would happen to the other within a few days. We got to be good friends with his wife. They even got their hearts within about 18 hours of each other. Unfortunately, he never made it out of ICU; he picked up a bad infection and died about a week after the transplant.

Adjusting the rejection meds does take some tinkering, and there are plenty of other ways to keep him there. My MIL developed two hernias where the LVAD lines passed through her intestinal wall. Maybe have him herniate during a coughing fit.

Here's a nice generic info page on LVADs and their components.
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Sometimes it takes therapy to put the past behind you. Other times, it takes a 20 gallon trash bag and a couple of cinder blocks.

Dave Freas

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Re: Information on Transplants
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2010, 07:01:45 AM »

Thanks, Bob

This all helps tons.

Dave
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