Thanks for coming to our blog. If you’re here, you’ve heard that Danny is in heart failure and has been placed on a transplant list. Many of you know our story, but for some of you it is new. So here it is from the beginning.
Danny and I got married in November of 1995 when I was 20 and he was 21. We had been married for two and a half years and were joyfully expecting our first son, Daniel. He arrived on April 27, 1998. Within minutes of his delivery, he was struggling to live. We were given the heartbreaking news that our little boy’s heart defects were incompatible with life. Just 24 hours later, we held and kissed our baby boy goodbye.
We were blessed to become parents again when Maggie was born on September 4, 1999 and 2 years later when Charlie was born on December 18. Life had settled into a sweet routine of raising our children. But that was short lived.
In July of 2002, Danny was bitten by a mosquito. In southern Louisiana, this is nothing to call home about. But with this mosquito bite came West Nile Virus. Danny fell seriously ill and was unable to work for several months. We filed for bankruptcy and had to move our family into our parents’ home.
Every cloud has its silver lining. Ours was that during his struggle with West Nile Virus, Danny came to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior in a more passionate way than ever before. As we clawed our way out of bankruptcy, we were also learning how to depend on the Lord for our every need.By 2010, our credit was restored and our American Dream continued as we purchased our first home and 2 new cars. Four months later, Danny lost his job when the company he worked for closed their United States Division. We are forever grateful to our family that had our back during this scary time.
It wasn’t long before Danny got a job with a wonderful company, Antares. He was able to continue doing what he does best: Computer Programming. I returned to school to get my teaching certificate.
On July 5, 2011, flank pain suddenly incapacitated Danny. We rushed him to the ER thinking it was a kidney stone. The CT scan revealed news we were not expecting. The “kidney stone” was actually a blood clot to the left kidney. In the cardiac workup that followed, Danny was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy. The doctors determined that the West Nile Virus which Danny had in 2002 had in fact attacked his heart muscle, causing the cardiomyopathy, an uncommon, but known complication of the virus. …One small mosquito…
In hindsight, we look back and see symptoms that we did not recognize. Running on the soccer field with Maggie and Charlie left him exhausted. After cutting the grass, he would come in totally beat. We just thought he was tired; after all, he worked hard and wasn’t getting any younger.
Really what was happening is that he was in early stages of heart failure and his vital organs were not getting the oxygen that they needed.
In the fall of 2011, Danny’s cardiologist referred him to Ochsner Transplant Facility in New Orleans. Danny had been on ever increasing medication to try and reverse the heart failure without any real results. Because his damaged heart is so ineffective at pumping, he’s been at risk for sudden cardiac failure. To protect against this, an ICD (combination pacemaker/defibrillator) was placed in his heart.
Since that time, Danny’s been monitored by his cardiologist and the transplant team knowing that transplant might very well be in his future. Over the past year, we have felt that Danny was declining. In April, he was able to very slowly walk a quarter of a mile. Not too long ago, he got home from work and was so short of breath and exhausted that Maggie and I carried him into the house.
The first week of August 2013 was terrible. Danny couldn’t sleep lying down and was having trouble breathing in any position. He saw his cardiologist in Baton Rouge who was horrified by his condition and immediately sent him to the ER of the transplant facility. He’s been in the Cardiac ICU since August 9 and every day has been different and challenging for his team of doctors.
Danny is a unique patient in that his heart failure has progressed rather silently. In most patients, as failure progresses, you can hear telltale signs when you listen to their lungs. But Danny wasn’t retaining fluid in his lungs; he was retaining fluid throughout his body masking the progression of this disease.
In two short weeks, he’s gone from being treated with oral medications to relying on more potent IV medications. The severity of his condition was brought home earlier this week when his IV was inadvertently turned off for a few minutes. Danny experienced cardiac arrhythmias that would have been fatal had he not had the defibrillator implanted. Danny described the feeling of having the defibrillator go off in his chest as a ninja’s sucker punch.
It’s been very sweet when he has rare moments of levity. Another that stands out is when, with IVs attached to both arms, he raised one and then the other and said, “Look, Tricia, I’m a marionette!”
It’s uncertain right now whether or not Danny will stabilize enough to go home and wait for a donor heart. The doctors have set a limit of mid-September at which time the current plan is to place a mechanical assist device to help his heart pump.
We know, whether with a donor or mechanical heart, that open heart surgery is just weeks away. As we struggle with the emotion of all this, it’s hard to not worry whether West Nile Virus will cause us to have to declare bankruptcy for a second time.
I have taken a leave of absence in order to be with and take care of Danny during this scary time. I don’t know whether I will receive any benefits because I have been with the school district for fewer than 12 months.
The costs associated with heart transplants are staggering, and there are thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of costs that will be out of pocket for us.
People are asking what they can do to help. The prayers, the childcare, the many acts of kindness are a godsend. It is so humbling to us to know that the Lord has put it in the hearts of some of you to help us financially. You will never know how truly grateful we are.
To that end, we have set up a PayPal account and our contact info with PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org
Those of you who know Danny know how internet security conscious he is. He is very comfortable with PayPal because it is a secure, encrypted service for transferring funds. Using this site allows 100% of the funds to be allocated toward Danny’s medical expenses. If you don’t have a PayPal account, you can easily set one up at PayPal.com
More than anything, we ask for your continued prayers.
We look forward to hearing from you through this blog as we post updates here.