After talking to the transplant team yesterday, we decided to move Abby's annual biopsy up to this Thursday instead of the 28th. The past few days Abby has been showing some very subtle signs of rejection. My gut feeling is that everything is okay, but it's always good to make sure. I've had some people ask me about the procedure, so here's a quick rundown. Since it's her annual biopsy, this procedure will be slightly different and more intense than most of the biopsies Abby has had. Usually they go through her neck, but not for her annual one. Abby will be put under anesthesia in the cath lab. They'll then insert a small catheter through a blood vessel in her groin and advance it up through the aorta and into the heart. Through this catheter they will measure the pressures in her heart and inject dye through the arteries to determine if Abby is showing any signs of coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is very common in transplanted hearts and is one of the main reasons that transplant patients need to receive a second transplant. They will also take a little piece of Abby's heart tissue to test for rejection. During the cath they'll do a blood draw to test all of her med levels, kidney function, blood counts, etc. If I remember right, the procedure takes about an hour and a half, but recovery is longer. Abby will have to recover in the pacu for 3-4 hours. She will have to lay still and flat the entire time. After recovery, we will head to clinic for an echo and to talk about what they find. For those of you that are familiar with Primary Children's, it will be Dr. Gray will be doing the procedure. It seems like we haven't seen Dr. Gray for a long time, but we've always liked him in the past. We will know most of the results before we leave the hospital on Thursday, but sometimes the biopsy results take a little longer. It will be a long day for sure.
I think that both Abby and I are a little nervous, mostly because she hasn't had a biopsy for such a long time, her last one was in October and she was in rejection at that time. Plus, it's always risky and scary when anesthesia is involved. If everything looks perfect, which it will, Abby won't have to have another biopsy for a whole year, unless something comes up before then. This is just one of the many things that comes with having a heart transplant. The average transplanted heart only lasts 10-15 years. I'm not sure what the statistics are about how many people end up needing a second heart, but I'm sure it's high. Recently I've become a member of a Facebook group called Heart Transplant Survivors. There are many members of this group that have had their hearts for over 20 years, it makes me very hopeful. There are definitely lots of ups and downs along the way, no heart recipient ever denies that, but they can practically live a normal life. I even know of a man that's had his new heart for almost 15 years and is participating in an Ironman triathlon next month in Idaho. How cool is that? Extremely inspiring, it's always good to hear stories like that. So, Abby will do great during her biopsy and the results will be perfect, and then it will be back to living her life. Things will be okay.
Since we are headed to Salt Lake a week earlier than planned, we won't be doing a book signing on the 28th. Instead, we will be at Lone Peak Park in Sandy, 10140 South 700 East, tomorrow night (Wednesday) from 7:00-8:00 pm. We would love to see you there! The book is $16. I will also bring some books with me to Primary Children's on Thursday for those of you that will be at the hospital that day. If you can't make the book signing tomorrow, but are interested in getting a book, just email or Facebook me, we will meet up somehow! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for Abby this Thursday. We can't wait until it's over. I will post the results when I hear. If you have a Team Doman shirt or wristband, Thursday will be the perfect day to wear them! Thanks for sticking with us.