Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Just in case it wasn't enough before...
I realized today that I'm passed due for an update on my fathers health when I was asked by a friend who hadn't heard any news in a while. It was a great reminder of the many wonderful, caring people who are out there praying for my father every day. I know I certainly appreciate it.
Anyway, a little over a week ago I went with my father to see the cardio-transplant specialist at Columbia-Presbyterian. We were given some not so good news. Nothing immediately threatening, or un-treatable, but something which could increase wait time significantly. (For those of you following, you know that waiting is the hardest part of this whole ordeal for my father.) It appears that during his childhood surgery he contracted Hepatitis C from one of his many blood transfusions. Back then they didn't screen or test the donor blood at all. Luckily, Hep C is a very slowly moving infection, and while it is attacking my fathers liver, it is at a very early stage, and certainly treatable. The problem is that he can't do treatment while also undergoing transplant. They are also very hesitant to do a transplant if there's still a need to do treatment. It's a bit of a catch 22.
At this point it would seem that there are really only 2 options. The first would be to go back to the original surgery idea hoping for success and being prepared to install a mechanical heart if it failed. Under this option he could proceed now, and wouldn't have to take the 6 month process of treating his Hep C first. In a scenario where he would get the mechanized heart, he'd be elevated to an emergency transplant status, and hopefully things would move rather quickly, but there are no guarantees. The surgery option at hand also carries a real risk factor, which is why they had been trying to avoid it before.
The second option would be to install a defibrillator by his heart that would automatically shock it back into rhythm if it stopped or murmured, or what have you. He'd then start treatment for the Hep C, and go through transplant once everything is all said and done. Apparently, though, the downside is that the body becomes dependent on the defibrillator, and it becomes a permanent fixture even after surgery. Therefore, in his mind at least, he can never be "fully recovered". And as discussed before this option also means a significantly longer wait time. The odds are marginally better though.
Regardless, he's got to drop 30 pounds before they can go either route. Dropping wait for a man with CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) and all his other issues is next to impossible because he has to avoid any and all strenuous, even mildly stressful, activity. The only chance he really has loose it is by starving himself slowly. It should also be noted that he is a man who really likes food.
So all in all, while his long term prognoses is still pretty good (70%), the journey is far from over. I'm just glad I can be there for him.