Sunday, July 28, 2013

Larry's Transplant And What Happened Afterwards

There is nothing routine about surgery and that is a given. It doesn't matter how skilled the surgeon is and how many he or she has done, you can never predict the outcome. Every patient reacts differently to the procedure. You hope that everything comes out well with minimal or no complications.
                Thursday mid-morning, which was about 1:30 a.m. in the Philippines, I got a text message from Ninette. I had been waiting for an update about Larry’s kidney transplant but didn't expect it that late, so it must have been urgent. I called her back and Ninette’s sister Tika answered. I don’t exactly recall the chronology of events as related to me by Pica, but she told me that Larry had complained about having difficulty urinating and they found out that a blood clot was blocking the urethra. While the surgeon was taking care of that problem, it was discovered that Larry had some bleeding from an unknown source and had to be rushed back to the operating room. This is where it gets confusing to me. As I understand it, when Larry’s anesthesia wore out in the recovery room, he woke up confused and started tearing out his IV lines and whatever else was attached to him. Because of this, the nephrologist thinks that the donated kidney from Ninette might have been traumatized that it would take longer for the graft to heal. The surgeon later informed Ninette that when they were taking care of the bleeding, they noticed some unidentifiable fluids which was not blood. Could it be leftover bile from Larry’s gall bladder which was also taken out at the same time as the kidney transplant?
                Larry was then sent to the ICU after the bleeding was stopped and was kept sedated. An endotracheal tube has remained in place and at that time he was considered to be in stable/critical condition, which sounds like an oxymoron. I hardly slept that night worrying about his condition. I received another text message Friday morning requesting me to call. This time I was able to talk to Ninette and she said Larry needed more blood transfusions plus dialysis because the electrolytes weren't clearing fast enough even though the new kidney was already producing adequate urine. Otherwise he was more mentally alert. That was a brief relief which enabled me to pass out Friday night and sleep till early Saturday morning. When I turned on my phone, there was a text message from 4 hours earlier. I immediately called back and Ninette said that during Larry’s dialysis, his blood pressure dropped to 80/60 so they had to stop. He was also having tachycardia (rapid pulse) going up to between 160 to 180 beats per minute. To add to that, he had developed a slight fever, which in his immunocompromised state is not good news. Remember he had to take a lot of immunosuppressant medications prior to surgery to lessen the possibility of rejecting then donated kidney. However, his doctor said that using signals, Larry had asked him how the new kidney was doing. The doctor told him that it was working, which apparently brought tears to his eyes.
                Ninette appears to be recovering quite well physically. She had been allowed to sit up in bed the day after the surgery. But of course she is experiencing a lot of emotional duress due to Larry’s condition. To make it worse, she couldn’t visit Larry in ICU because she had developed a cold. I continue admire her for her love and courage despite what is happening. In case you don't already know, she donated one of her kidneys to Larry.

The last six months or so, I was concerned about my brother ever since he said he had end stage renal disease, but only in these past few days that I've worried so much because of the challenges for Larry which keep on popping up. Just like last year with Mama before she died, I dread every phone call, text message or email that comes bearing news of another setback. I have to remain positive for my brother because if he is fighting, the least I can do is keep myself together. It's just a helpless feeling. You want to solve it but you can't. In my mind, I keep on exhorting Larry to keep fighting, hoping that mental telepathy works with prayer. Otherwise, what else can you do except trust the medical staff to do their job in trying to make him well? Larry has already made so many major lifestyle changes so he could qualify for this transplant and it seems unfair that he has to go through these complications. It makes me scared to think what else is coming around the bend. I’m hoping for better news at the next update. Please…
          Newsflash 7/28/13 8:47 A.M. : Robynne, Larry's niece just posted an update on Facebook which I'm copying and pasting here: Hi everybody. Ninong is doing so much better today. The slight fever he had yesterday is now gone, his BP is back to normal, he is responding really well everytime they lower the pressure on his ventilator, although his heart rate is still irregular, it is not zooming up anymore. If he continues to respond well to the doctors lowering the pressure on the ventilator, they will take it out tomorrow morning and he will be out of the ICU in the afternoon and if he stable after that. His new kidney is doing well too. Thank you so much for all the prayers you have been offering for him. My family and I cannot even begin to express how grateful we are. Please do continue to pray for him. Thank you again!
Also, I know that he is feeling better because he already did a silly face out of nowhere when I visited him earlier in the ICU and nodded like there is no tomorrow when I asked him if he is bored .

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