Personal Stories: Kathy Charest's Husband

As I read through everyone's stories I just want to say my heart goes out to all of you. I'm grateful to you, Brian for creating this site and to all of you who like me are living with fear and heartbreak.

My husband is 43. Two years ago he was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy (heart failure from a viral infection). After about a year on medications he went down hill so fast that he was referred on to a University hospital for a heart transplant evaluation.

In June 2004 my husband received a heart transplant. He had been hospitalized in May and was kept on life support (LVAD) until the generous gift from a donor matched his blood and tissue type. It was like the most overwhelming, joyous, sad (for the donors family) day of our lives!

After 9 hours in OR my husband came out of surgery, only to go back for another four. Within the next 24 hours we were told that his aorta was dissected. Since he had been kept alive with first a balloon pump and then an LVAD and then, had a transplant within a short period of time it still hasn't been determined if this was caused by so much surgery or what.

The next news was much worse. After 6 days on the ventilator he hadn't urinated and when they were finally able to do a CT scan they found that the dissection had gone all the way through the renal arteries and had blocked the blood flow to the kidneys. The kidneys were severely damaged, they put stints in both sides and slowly, with much help from diuretics and dialysis his kidneys responded. He finally came home after almost 50 days in the hospital only to return two weeks ago in end stage renal failure.

To say we are both depressed is an understatement as we found out this week that the dissection has torn so far down that he probably won't be able to get a kidney transplant. They don't think there is any place to attach the kidney to get blood to it. I spend everyday at the hospital since I think I'm the only thing that keeps my husband going. He's depressed, scared of what's to come, what to do and like you all just waits. He takes tons of high blood pressure meds and after reading all of your stories I now understand why he's always complaining about how bad his legs ache.

We need advice, please tell me about surgery, where, when any and all info is greatly appreciated. I myself have to go back to work in 5 weeks and I don't know how I'll focus knowing he's all alone. Our daughter is 15 and has been our saving grace, the best part of both of us, she keeps us going.

I wish all of you the very best, thanks for reading our story and thanks again Brian for giving us a place to talk and great information!

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