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Kristin Bozarth’s Heart Transplant

$127,588 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 889 people in 1 month
Family and Friends,

I’ve been trying all day long to figure out how to start this explanation, but there is no eloquent way for me to say “the love of my life needs an emergency heart transplant”. I suppose I’ll just begin at the beginning. 5 weeks ago my wife Kristin started feeling a bit under the weather. She had a persistent cough and began feeling weak and tired after any physical exertion. Like the powerful, selfless woman she is, she continued her work as a middle school social studies teacher, caring for and carting around our children to all their various after school sports and activities, and keeping a house with two boys and three labradors in some semblance of order. All of this on her own, as I had been working out of state for nearly three months.
She finally went to the doctor’s office where they performed a chest x-ray that showed fluid on her lungs, leading them to believe she had pneumonia. That news finally convinced her to stay home sick from work. Over the next two days her condition grew dramatically worse. The Doctor finally ordered her in for a CT scan which lead to an echocardiogram, which lead to her being admitted to the emergency room in Anchorage on Friday May 18th. The doctors informed us that her heart was only functioning at 10% efficiency, and the fluid in her lungs and swelling in her abdomen were actually an edema caused by her weak heart not being able to pump fluids properly.
After spending two days in the cardiac intensive care unit where more testing was conducted, the Anchorage cardiologists told us they had ordered an emergency medevac from Anchorage to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Two hours later we were in a jet headed South. Upon arriving at UWMC they ran every test under the sun and declared there is no real chance that her heart is going to heal on its own. They took her into surgery and installed a temporary heart pump to keep her other organs from shutting down while they figure out a way forward.
Today the lead cardiac doctor informed us that she will have to have a more permanent pump installed and she will be placed on the heart transplant list. She is currently at the top of the list based on how sick her heart is, but because she has type O blood, she can only accept other type O hearts. They gave us an estimated wait of six months to a year to find a suitable heart, but also said there’s really just no way to know how long it could take. One could become available tonight. Either way, the road ahead is going to be exceedingly difficult for Kristin and our entire family.
We will have to sell our home in Eagle River and relocate close to Seattle so that we can be close to the hospital if a heart becomes available, or if something goes wrong with the battery operated heart pump she will be wearing every second of every day until the donor heart arrives. She will not be able to continue working, but hopefully I can get a transfer to Renton, SeaTac, or some other airport in the area.
This brings me to the bush I’ve been trying to beat around. We simply can not afford all of the costs we are about to accrue. I have no idea how much of this million dollar (I wish I was exaggerating) procedure will be covered by our insurance, but I am certain that they will not cover the cost of us having to relocate to Seattle, and with Kristin not being able to work for the foreseeable future, we are officially living outside our means. Just before we left Anchorage, the head cardiac nurse came in the room and gave us a talk about what we should expect. One thing she hit on several times was that we had to start a crowd fund as soon as possible, because not even the best insurance covers all the unforeseen costs associated with a heart transplant and the life changes that follow. Several other people who we love and respect told us the same, so I’m taking their advice. I’m coming with my hat in my hand, more afraid than I’ve ever been of anything in my life. I made this page on the advice a woman who’s seen many families suffer from the monetary burden of heart transplant surgery and the subsequent treatment. I feel embarrassed and ashamed to even ask for money, but if it gives my wife a better shot at living a happy, healthy life, I will do whatever it takes. If you can spare a couple bucks, we would be more grateful than I can possibly ever tell you. If not, we completely understand. Please just keep my Beautiful Wife in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you,
Scott Bozarth
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The update is from Kristin herself today:
UPDATE 6/5/18
Today the pain meds are under control, and the doctors were planning on sending me out of the ICU into a regular bed. However, the right side of my heart (the one without the turbo charger) is not performing as they expected. The doctors have inserted another swan catheter from my neck into my heart to get more specific, real-time information. They are looking for possible explanations for conflicting info they are getting. Still waiting to get out of this hospital . 5 days more minimum.
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I know it’s a little gruesome, but here’s a shot of the chest tubes when the nurses had the dressings removed to pull them out. I figured they went in a couple inches... friends, when they proceeded to pull almost 18 inches of tubes out of those wholes my jaw about hit the floor. No wonder they were so “uncomfortable”! The nurse told Kristin it was going to hurt for a minute when she pulled them out... duh! Kristin just held her breath, kind of grunted a little as the nurse reefed the tubes out with both hands, and then went on with her day. I’m still geeking out over it!
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Here are a few pictures of the actual HartWare VAD she has installed. Just for those who were asking.
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Hi folks, sorry for no update in a bit. It’s been a busy Monday. Kristin had her chest tubes removed this morning which is excellent news because those were causing the majority of her post surgery discomfort. She is still having some pain, obviously, but much more manageable.

We were signed off by the physical therapist today to go on walks together without having to have a nurse or PT Specialist with us, so that’s awesome. She can get out of bed and go to the regular bathroom with no actual help from anyone now too. I just have to be close enough to grab her if she trips or gets dizzy, but so far that hasn’t been an issue at all.

Tomorrow will be another big day with Lisa and I going through the training on how to help her care for her LVAD, change the dressing around the insertion point, operate the controls and what to do in an emergency if it fails, that sort of thing. Also, Kristin will most likely be leaving the ICU! She’ll still be in the hospital, but just under general floor conditions. Meaning, no hourly vitals checks and blood draws for labs. No nurses coming in every 5-10 minutes to check her machines every time there’s a blip or bloop. In other words, she’ll finally be able to get a full night’s sleep.

I’m hopeful that all this progress will mean she’ll be out of the hospital by the weekend, but that may be high hopes. They typically like VAD implant patients to stay for at least ten day so they can be certain everything is working the way it should. Especially considering Kristin’s right ventricle wasn’t really up to snuff. It is showing good improvement though, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.
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Raised by 889 people in 1 month
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