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Michael was born with Transposition of the Great Vessels and had open heart surgery when he was just a tiny baby. He was doing great, living a normal full happy life. Until a few years ago, when he started having major health problems. His cardiologist said that he would need a transplant but that he wasn't a candidate for a transplant due to being overweight. He has had many surgeries, several stents, a pacemaker/ defibrillator, av-node ablation, among several others. He coded on the operating table and died and they brought him back to life. It's been quite the adventure.
Mike is the most amazing father, friend, husband, brother and man in the whole world. He has always been there for anyone that needed him. From toy and food drives, to helping a friend in need, to giving you the last $5 in his pocket he is always trying to think of a way to help others. Which is why it didn't surprise me when he decided that he was going to fight this, and that he wouldn't let anything stand in his way. He decided to have gastric surgery, so that he could be a candidate for transplant. Just before the surgery, one of the medicines they gave him for diabetes caused his kidneys to fail and almost killed him, he had to have dialysis. When they took the picc line out, they didn't apply pressure and just dressed it and left the room. A few minutes later the site burst and was spraying blood everywhere, he pushed the call light and nobody came, finally he started screaming while he was bleeding out and a cleaning lady came running in and grabbed a towel and applied pressure while screaming for help. She saved his life. Fast forward a few months. After special diets, appointments with nutritionists, battles with insurance, he finally was able to have the gastric surgery. Shortly after the surgery, he started fainting. He ended up being admitted to the ICU and almost died after he had a massive amount of blood loss in his stomach and went into hypovolemic shock. They saved his life. Fast forward again, he ended up fainting again and breaking two vertebrae in his lumbar spine. Guess what? He kept fighting! Through lots and lots of hard work and a few tears, a year later he had lost close to 200 pounds and was finally a candidate!! The battle did not end though, this was just his ribbon cutting ceremony.
There were many other battles along the way. His pacemaker battery had to be replaced, he had to have more stents, heart catheterizations, ablations, and so many procedures, surgeries, hospitalizations and doctors.
His cardiologist found 2 doctors in Arizona that were capable of performing a transplant as complex as his. The first doctor in Tucson said absolutely not, he refused to even see him. The second doctor at Mayo said that he would be willing to do an evaluation. His insurance approved the first appointment...after that...let's just say Mayo was not the easiest hospital to work with. It took over a year, countless hours of phone calls, arguments with Mayo and Insurance companies, we weren't getting anywhere. Finally we caught a break, we were blessed with an amazing caseworker who personally knew the director of his insurance company! She was able to get things moving! He saw the doctors at Mayo and had probably 50 tests and appointments. It was finally the day we found out if they were going to approve him for the transplant list!!! Yay!!! We get to the appointment and the doctor says, unfortunately the doctor that was going to do the transplant has moved to a different hospital in California! They said they didn't have anyone capable of doing his heart transplant and they denied him because he was too high of a surgical risk.
So we tracked down the doctor in California, made some changes to health insurance, and contacted his office. His nurse knew who Mike was! He must've made an impact somehow! So fast forward again, the doctor had agreed to proceed with getting Michael on the transplant list. However, since he is in California and we are in Arizona, we have to make many trips for tests, procedures, checkups, possibly an LVAD implantation and eventually hopefully a transplant!
Michael has gone through all of the screening and testing at UCSD (University of California San Diego). The transplant team has agreed to take Mike's case and feel confident with the heart transplant. They have listed him on the transplant list as of October 2017. Now we just have to wait until they can find a matching donor. Michael has to travel back and forth from Mesa, Arizona to San Diego, California every month for checkups. They are worried that his heart strength is rapidly declining and feel that the LVAD (left ventricular assist device) will be needed for him to make it to transplant. The LVAD is considered a bridge to transplant in this case. It will require open heart surgery, a pump installed on the outside of his heart with wires coming out of his stomach to a battery pack that will be worn around his waist. These batteries must be charged every 6 hours and will keep him alive until they find a matching donor heart.
Michael has had several other health issues in the meantime. He had sepsis from a bad bone infection in his foot. He had to have surgery and was on IV antibiotics for several months. When that did not work and he went septic they amputated his toe. His immune system was so weak that he has caught just about every cold and flu going around this year. It has been an extremely difficult winter.
Michael has an appointment with the LVAD team next week in San Diego and we should find out more soon. Updates will be posted on our Facebook blog.
Unfortunately, we cannot do this alone. We need to ask for some help. It's taking a major toll on us financially as well as mentally. There are hotel bills, gas, airplane tickets, medical copays, prescriptions and so much more. That's on top of all of our regular bills, or mortgage, and everything else. We are trying to be proactive so that we can focus on making sure nothing stands in the way of Mike getting this transplant. If he needs the LVAD, we will have to move to California until he's able to get a heart. When he gets a heart, we will have to live there for 3 months. Please help us to make sure that Sophie gets a long happy future with her daddy! Every donation helps to ensure he has a chance at a normal healthy life with his family. No matter how big or small, you can make a huge impact. If their is any remaining funds at the end of this journey, they will all be to start a scholarship fund for Sophie's education and securing a future for her financially.
We will not stop fighting! He deserves a long happy healthy life, just like you!
We are so grateful to all of you for your continued prayers, positive thoughts and support. Thank you everyone.
- Destiny Reeder
- Vernon Jobes
- Shannon Ford
- Michelle Boan
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