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Kristin Bozarth’s Heart Transplant

$129,028 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 911 people in 7 months
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Created May 23, 2018
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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Update 14
Posted by Scott Bozarth
10 days ago
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Dear friends and family,

I am starting 2019 with a cold, but also with a sense of hope and opportunity. I am through my first 3 months of recovery with no major rejection. Now some of my medications can be stopped or reduced, and we can travel. This year is about moving forward and what could lie ahead.

I have trouble holding still. 6 months without driving was so hard for me, but trying to decide what to do with my time is even harder! I am trying to figure out what to do next fall when I hit my 1 year mark. The doctors say that barring any complications that is a good time to plan on going back to work, or starting a new project. I applied to get my teaching credential here in Washington State. Now that I am on medications to suppress my immune system, so I don’t reject my new heart, I have no defense against germs. I do not plan to return to the classroom, even after that 1 year mark, because school=germs. I may try to teach online for a while. I am also looking into the PhD programs at the University of Washington for next year. As usual, I’m throwing many irons in the fire. We’ll see which ones work out in the end.

Eli is trying out for a quick play this month. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, with the Missoula Children’s Theater, is one week of after school practices and then a performance. He is nervous-excited.

John is starting badminton in the mornings with 6th grade. He has been showing us TED talks and trying to convince us that more video game time is good for him. He also enjoys using the harness on his dog, Willow, and having her pull him on his skateboard. I don’t know who has more fun. I have never seen that dog so excited as when she pulls John down the road. She would have made a great skijoring dog if we were still in Alaska.

Scott is revamping our garage into a home gym, laundry, and yoga/gaming area. So far he has pulled down all the fake wood paneling, vacuumed out all of the 50 year old insulation, put in new insulation, and added a few more electrical outlets. He is still planning to frame in a utility closet and drywall everything up.

Many thanks to all of you for your continued thoughts, prayers, and support. Happy 2019.

Kristin
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Update 13
Posted by Scott Bozarth
3 months ago
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Kristin Update 10/11/2018:
It was another day of good progress. Kristin went on three separate walks around the halls today and is down to just one IV medication. (There are still tons of pills, but less IVs is always good). Hopefully they will be removing her chest tubes on Saturday, then she’ll have nothing holding her back. (For those who don’t know, there are four, quarter inch diameter tubes coiled up roughly 12-18” long, each in her chest to help drain excess fluid that the body sends to area the surgery was performed in. If they don’t keep the fluid drained, it will build up in her chest cavity and make it very hard to breath or for her heart to beat properly. Anyway, those tubes cause a lot of discomfort, so the sooner they can come out safely, the better.
Other than that, Kristin is truly thriving under the watchful eye of the UWMC Cardiac team and the outstanding nursing staff of the 5SA Cardiac ICU. My hat’s off to all of them.
Thanks again to all who’ve supported Kristin and the rest of us through this ordeal. We’ll have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, that’s for sure.
-Scott
Kristin’s railroad track of staples!
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Update 12
Posted by Scott Bozarth
3 months ago
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Well, day two after transplant surgery and she’s doing great. I can’t believe how good she’s doing already. They woke her up and removed the breathing tube yesterday afternoon and within an hour she was talking and joking. We were all prepared for that slow grind to recovery like after the LVAD surgery, but the difference is that this time she was in such better shape going into the surgery. Last time she had already been sick for over a month and was super weak, this time she’s a ball of fire.
The nursing staff at UWMC has been awesome, (as always), and once again we are all blown away by the support from our friends, family, and many of you whom we’ve never even met.

Thank you all for your support.
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Update 11
Posted by Scott Bozarth
3 months ago
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SURGERY COMPLETE! She’s in the Cardiac ICU now and the nurses are getting her all squared away. The doctor said she is stable and the heart is in good working order. She’ll be knocked out for the rest of the night, so I’ll send another update in the morning. Thank you all so much for your prayers and positive wishes. I do truly believe they were heard.
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$129,028 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 911 people in 7 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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Created May 23, 2018
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