We all knew when that phone rang between 2-3am Tuesday, June 14th.
I didn’t even say hello, I answered with, “You got one didn’t you?” Hearing Jeff’s voice enriched with so much excitement and motivation is something I will never forget.
So, as one can imagine, we all rushed to get there. It was complete chaos and the days’ events were nothing short of a Keystone Cop movie. My parents were 6.5 hours north with two of Jeff’s children and my other nephew. I was trying to find a flight; and Alicia was in a dazed state, trying to let Katelyn (Jeff’s youngest) sleep as long as possible until she had everything packed and ready. Teigan (Jeff’s oldest) was on his way from across town to ride with Alicia. Chad (my other brother) was driving around, setting up his paint supplies for his crew for the day.
It was now 4am and the surgery time had been changed three times.
I walked into his hospital room at 9:45am and it was overwhelming to see his room filled with family. My parents were still an hour out and they were speeding to get there, anxious not only to see him before he went in, but to get his two other children there in time.
It was 10am and the surgery time was now “TBD.”
No sooner than my mom telling me there were just a few miles away did we get wind that the hospital was on lockdown because of a bomb threat. The cops turned them away at the parking lot and helicopters were starting to surround the building.
We were all a mixed bag of emotions. We were relieved and excited that the time has come, we were all nervous as heck, we all felt awful because someone’s life was taken; and to top it off a bomb threat…we all just started to laugh and take pictures of the helicopters. Even Jeff got out of bed to see them! I suppose nervous energy and sleep deprivation made us act like giddy little children.
Long story short there was a pipe bomb in the parking garage and an all clear was given! I’ll spare you all the rest of the details of the day, but trust me when I say it was controlled chaos most of the next 24 hours.
The surgery finally happened around 7:30pm. Jeff went back to the Pre-Op and Alicia was updated as needed. He went into the O.R. around 10:30pm, the same time the TEAM left for the heart. The heart arrived around 1am and they closed at 4:30am. There were 9 of us there overnight, supporting each other and hoping the surgery was a success.
Listen closely because if you play the lottery, you may want to think about some of these numbers. Jeff’s heart pump was installed exactly a year ago on June 15, 2015. Jeff’s transplant was June 15, 2016 and it was also the 15th heart transplant of the year for Loyola Hospital. I should also mention Jeff and Alicia celebrated their 15th year of marriage this year too!
So here we are a week later and Jeff looks amazing. He claims he already feels like he did 10 years ago. His color is excellent and he came out of ICU yesterday; and he could be home before the week is over. I told him we may need to break him in easy as he has spent over eight months in a hospital room, a prisoner of his illness.
He must be careful about infections, so please help to encourage him to keep wearing that mask for the next few months. We cannot celebrate as a large group, but I know each of you reading this is so happy for Jeff, Alicia and especially for his four children. To have their dad back in their lives will simply be amazing. On behalf of his close friends and family, I would like to thank all of you for your support. Without the donations and emotional support I am not sure we would have gotten to this point. We appreciate every single word of encouragement, donation, or even the simple question of asking how he is doing.
The largest hurdle was jumped over a week ago, but we are not out of the woods yet. There is a series of costly medical steps that now continue over the next year. From weekly biopsies to anti-rejection drugs we hope all goes well. Our hope is by June 15, 2017 Jeff will be cleared to go back to a normal life. Thank you all again for helping support us through these last 17 months!
DonationsSee top donations
- Grace Valley Church
- Eric Hommema
- Paige Morimoto
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more