MARK NEEDS YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT AND HELP!
Third time is the charm! After two false starts of going to the hospital and being prepped, viable organs became available and Mark was able to receive his kidney-pancreas transplant on February 2 (Groundhog Day!). He is being released from the hospital on 2/11/23, and will need around-the-clock home care for 1-2 months. Fortunately, insurance covered most of his costs, but he will need help with the some of his home care, transportation, supplies, and medication costs. Thank you, especially for your encouragement through this difficult but happy time.
April 23, 2023
It's April 23, 2023 - time for a final update. Mark is doing well. The kidney and pancreas are functioning perfectly. The Kovler transplant center at Northwestern did an amazing job. Mark is still recovering - primarily adjusting his anti-rejection and other medications to decrease side effects (hand tremors, in addition to the hand tremors he has always had). It also takes time for the body to adjust to being off dialysis treatments. Mark is also having PT and OT to improve his strength and balance and decrease his back pain (unrelated). Of course, after being diabetic for 33 years, there was some permanent damage to blood vessels, eyesight, etc. But he is enjoying not going to dialysis (other than missing the people there), and not taking insulin. No more fear of blood sugar going too low while asleep, or too high and damaging organs. He still has to watch his diet very closely, though (salt and fat). Thanks so much to his donors!!! Your contributions covered many of Mark's costs (travel to the transplant center, and the supplies and OTC medications that were not covered by insurance). THANK YOU!
March 4, 2023
Since the last update, Mark had a small setback. On 2/27, he had a low-grade fever, cough, and some redness on his leg, so after his checkup, he was admitted to the hospital overnight (after almost 6 hours in the ED!). It turned out that he was fine, but the doctors are extra-cautious with transplant recipients. Otherwise, he has been progressing well. The staples from the incision were removed on 2/23 and 2/27 (a single incision down the middle for both organs). As he recovers, he has three main issues to deal with: First, he has to remain well-hydrated, which is the opposite of the goal when he was on dialysis for his kidneys. As a result, it will take time for his bladder to expand back to normal size, so he has to get up frequently during the night, making him very tired during the day. Second, one of the anti-rejection medications causes tremors. Mark had hand tremors to begin with, but the meds made it 3 time worse. The docs will be able to lower the dose or try different meds after 3 months, but making a change right now could cause organ rejection. So, for now, Mark has to struggle with eating, drinking, dressing, etc., which is very frustrating for him. His third issue is bad back pain. He had some pain at times before the surgery, but somehow spending 9 days in bed in the hospital for the transplant really aggravated his back. Tylenol hasn't helped (transplant recipients can't take NSAIDs), so he will be getting physical therapy. If it turns out to be an issue that requires surgery, that can't happen for at least 6 months after the transplant surgery. One additional issue is weakness. Yesterday at his checkup, the doctor thought he wasn't eating enough and he should he focus on high phosphorus foods, since his level was a bit low which can cause weakness. Recovery is a long process.