“I may have a new heart for you”
Dr.Hosenpud’s call to my cell phone from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida was totally unexpected. I had only been on the waiting list for thirteen days. I knew that many people waited a long time for an organ; some even died waiting so when Hosenpud’s call came I was shocked to the point of being dumbfounded.
“Don’t eat anything,” he said, “drink only sips, pack a bag and come to the hospital as soon as possible.” He noted that while the match between the donor and me seemed good, there could always be circumstances that might prevent a transplant. It could be a false alarm. I know I said something to him like, “OK, I’ll be there.” I can’t remember anything else. I am usually very logical and decisive but at this moment emotions ruled. “This can’t be happening, I’m not ready, this is too quick, do I really need a transplant?” All of these questions despite the fact that I had undergone extensive transplant evaluation and testing at Mayo for several months.
“I’m here for a heart transplant,” I told the receptionist at the hospital, thinking they would rush me somewhere. They didn’t. The organ, if appropriate for transplant, had not yet been recovered so there was no immediacy, no hurry. As I signed the appropriate papers and Robin and I called family and friends, my mind was rushing, I felt confused, conflicted and apprehensive. Like a stressful dream, images, thoughts and snippets of conversation raced through my mind. None lingered, they just flashed by. Strangely, I was never frightened. I knew that if I had a transplant I’d be fine. That, I assume, is the result of my lifelong eternal optimism. I am incapable of negative thinking.
In my conflicted mind the pace of events increased to many times that of the speed of light, far too fast for me to follow, I have to depend on Robin’s memory and the recollection of others to help me with the details of what happened next. All I remember through that incredible deluge of thoughts and images is waking up in the Intensive Care Unit and wondering what happened. “Was the transplant over, am I OK, where’s Robin, what’s going on.” I fell asleep again almost immediately.
When I awakened the nurse told me I had a new heart that was working perfectly and that I was doing very well. Robin, holding my hand, reassured me that everything was fine and that I looked good. The monitors seemed to be happily beeping and chirping in tune with my new heart. There didn’t seem to be any reason for me to be concerned so again I fell into the waiting arms of Morpheus. Nine days later I left the hospital totally amazed and full of hope.