Mom’s Heart Transplant Journey: The Surgery

Mom had finally received the call we were waiting for. She had a heart. I was ill and hugely pregnant, and not allowed to travel to be there for the surgery. The day of her transplant, I remember literally sitting around the phone waiting for updates. I remember trying to entertain my young son, who wasn’t even two yet, but still trying to relax myself and rest from the bronchitis I had.

My brother would call every 30 minutes or so to update us. My husband took the day off of work. Of course, every 30 minutes not much had changed, but I needed to hear his voice and hear about Mom.

When Mom arrived at the Mayo Clinic, she signed the paperwork, met with her cardiologists and was prepped for surgery. The scary thing was, there was still a chance she could still be prepped and ready for surgery only to have it turn out that the heart would not work for her. Mom knew this, but she was ecstatic to at least have a chance.

Mom was prepped and taken away from my dad. Neither of them knowing for sure if the heart would be usable for her. Technically, they wouldn’t know until the heart arrived at Mayo, but Mom needed to be ready because once it was there, things would happen quickly should the heart be a complete match.

Mom waited, prepped and ready for a new heart. It was after quite a long wait in the operating area that she was told the news: her heart was a match and her surgery was going to be starting. It was a match!

The cardiologists quickly told my dad and my brother the news and they called me. To be honest, the entire surgery was much quicker than I had anticipated. I thought it was going to last as long as her open heart surgery did years before. In actuality, after they opened up her chest and began the transplant, the entire process was around four hours.

My brother called often, telling me news. Mom was eventually brought out of surgery and taken to the intensive care unit. She would remain there for sometime, with a ventilator breathing for her, hooked up to many tubes. She was alive however and she had a healthy heart.

I remember my dad calling when he finally saw her, he was crying. The first thing he said to me was this,”Your mom is good and she is so pink, you should see how pink she is.” This news was good news. Because of mom’s faulty heart, her circulation wasn’t good and she often appeared a bit bluish. One sign that a new heart is working is if the patient is pink. Mom was pink!

It was only after Mom’s surgery was over and she began to recover that I actually sat down and thought about her donor. We had been told a very minimal amount about the donor. We knew the donor was a male and he was 26. That was pretty much it. It then hit me that while my family was celebrating my mom being given this second chance to live, another family was mourning the loss of a young man who was greatly loved. This would affect my mom deeply as she recovered. Read more tomorrow to find out how her recovery went and what we learned about Mom’s donor.