Living in a time where doctors are often perceived as scammers and hospitals as an industry, we have been fortunate enough to interact with some fantastic, caring human beings.
Believe me, when I say there are far easier ways to make money – Professions which will allow you a family life, a vacation, a weekend, an evening out. Doctors in critical specialisations have none of these luxuries. They can only survive years without any “me” time if they actually believe in the work they do… And yes! They deserve my every last penny and deepest gratitude for saving the life of my loved one.
Hello from New Delhi! We’re a regular family of 4… sporty, sociable husband, arty anti social wife, techie teenage son and Messi fan younger daughter. Most of our family time is outdoors… vacation time is favourite time for all of us- including the fights, planning, discovering, teasing and tasting!!
One regular Saturday morning, while Karhun (husband) back from his football game with the aches and pains (that happen when you are 40+ and play with kids in the 20s) I was yelling about homework with the kids. Husband had taken an antacid presuming the early morning coffee didn’t agree with him.
Half hour later he’s down on all fours wincing with pain. Since he’s already taken an antacid, we decide to go to the hospital to our family doctor so he can figure it out. A dramatic drive (all drives are dramatic in Delhi…but this one particularly so) we reach Aashlok Hospital. Our doctor tries to get an ECG reading and realizes Karhun is having a heart attack.
Just as he is rushed into the ICU and flat lines, 5 shocks and CPR later we’re waiting for the ambulance to now rush him to Escorts. 7 attacks in the ambulance…still horrible traffic! An emergency stent surgery is performed by a specialist who is miraculously there and Karhun stabilizes but is on life-support. A week into coma, still on life-support, he finally wakes up wondering why I have a worried look on my face and am introducing myself as his wife… (of course he knows who I am!!)
Another few weeks of recovering in hospital. We head back home… rest recovery and regular checkups for 6 months… things aren’t getting normal. We’ve also put a device called an ICD implant which regulates his arrhythmia. Karhun, the sporty now struggles to walk to the toilet and bathe. It hard to see – for me, for the kids, and for his parents. He’s always been the hero.
Finally in September we’re told that it’s heart failure and if we don’t have a heart transplant, his chances of survival are low. A six-month roller coaster – from healthy to dying. We were blessed to meet with superb doctors, good advice and implicit faith in the path we were taking.
We were advised to go to Chennai for the transplant. The pre-screening test gave us good news- it’s not a heart+lung transplant but ONLY A HEART TRANSPLANT…. Yes! We rejoiced and had a celebratory dinner (it was Dussehra). Life does make you act strangely.
We were going to leave the kids for 3-6 months and be in Chennai, awaiting a donor. Thank God for our strong family system in India – my mom and sister-in-law took over the kids. They flew down every other week to cheer us up and have a “holiday”. Diwali was spent together.
Waiting in Chennai
We kept ourselves busy with a little bit of work, watching movies online and running our small temporary home away from home in Chennai. The support was fantastic in terms of chemist delivery, emergency ambulance, patients that needed nursing care, organizing a cook to come and help.
By now Karhun was on a constant drip called Milrinone which helped him survive the waiting period. After Diwali, both of us were a little frustrated waiting…. and just then we received a call that a possible donor had been found. A match is required not just for the blood group but also for weight, size and condition of heart. The moments flew, while one team prepped Karhun for surgery, another team checked, matched and harvested the heart. Time was crucial and I felt for the loss of the donor’s family.
The transplant was successful. We met him the next day behind many pipes and tubes, exhausted and drained but alive. The next few days were crucial as the body learns to accept the new heart. Rejection is a key worry. There were many families with us going through the same thing. We formed wonderful bonds and shared the ups and downs of their transplant patient as well as books, jokes and things to do to keep sane. We were fortunate…
Watching miracle after miracle – of God and man, we returned to Delhi a month later. It’s now been one year. Karhun is well. He needs to be careful of infection. Regular flu takes on its own avatar and it means coordinating with doctors in Delhi and Chennai. It’s like he’s pregnant- I often tease him.. in terms of taking care not to be sick, not to eat wrong. He has returned to work, we go out, he’s taken up golf and does play football with our daughter.
|One year Post-Transplant!||Coaching Our Football Fan!|
Life is back to normal with a little extra care and a lot of gratitude. For us no crappy day is really that bad…We’re alive. How bad can anything else be? And yes, the whole family has signed up for organ donation. A little thank you prayer every night to God, the unknown donor family, the doctors, our families and friends and for all the love we continue to receive.
We’ve now joined a support group for families going through transplant to share anything we know or help through the uncertain times, the many questions you hesitate to ask your doctor.
Please find the link to the Support Group Page:
Patient Support Group