Betsy Speicher

Stephen's Health

278 posts in this topic

Betsy,

Thanks so much for keeping us updated as to Stephen's condition. I must admit to finding all this surreal or, rather, hard to wrap my my mind around. And yet . . . I do know that with you and the excellent medical care you describe Stephen is in the very best of hands.

As always, I send every good thought and wish your way and anxiously await both news of a successful transplant and Stephen's complete recovery, as well as the "sound" of his voice via his first new post on the Forum.

V.

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Well, Betsy, you've answered my continuing concerns about the damage to Stephen's heart. I've no doubt that he is in the best of hands. He has all that can be said to be positive in his situation, thank goodness. I'll continue to keep a good thought for his steady improvement.

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Betsy, I hope good donors are found soon. Meanwhile, it's good to hear that Stephen's temperature is still decreasing and that the infection is being successfully handled. There's not much more that can be said, only that I really miss Stephen here on the Forum.

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UPDATE:

It looks like his best option now is a heart transplant and he will qualify for the list as soon as he is on the VAD which can hold him until a heart is available. UCLA does more transplants than any other hospital and their survival rate is the highest. Many of their patients have lived 15 or more years with their new hearts. It also results in a good quality of life. Recently a UCLA heart transplant patient ran -- and completed -- the LA Marathon.

Betsy,

Given the serious nature of Stephen's heart attack and the following complicated surgery I am inclined to think that transplant should be a damn good option and with you by his side, Stephen can go on to set even higer records of the quality of life after the transplant.

All the best with the proposed transplant and if there is ANYTHING I can do to help with anything, I am at your service.

Take care of yourself Betsy for Stephen has already given you his heart :-)

- Hema

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My best wishes are with you and Stephen. I am rather stunned by this sudden course of events. That Stephen had an attack was unexpected in itself, that it had to be this severe is sad news indeed. As usual, you are looking on the bright side, and like everyone else here, I am keeping my fingers crossed that Stephen will sail through this, and be a well man again.

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The need for a heart transplant confirms how serious this has been all along, but the fact that he is considered strong enough to qualify seems to be a good sign and now actually a form of medical good news. This will be a struggle in many ways but it could have been much worse.

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Good morning.

About UCLA's Adult Heart Transplant Program

Description of Clinical Program

Established in 1984, the UCLA Heart Transplant Program is currently the largest program in the United States. Surgeons at UCLA have performed more than 650 heart transplants on patients ranging in age from two weeks to 72 years, with survival rates exceeding those reported by the International Heart Transplant Registry.

The UCLA transplant team consists of leading surgeons, cardiologists, pulmonologists, transplant coordinators, psychologists, ethicists, social workers and financial counselors with extensive experience in all aspects of transplantation, from evaluation and selection of candidates to management of pre- and post-operative care.

In addition, UCLA patients average the shortest length of stay following heart transplantation -- just seven days.

Article from The Californian

Heart transplant recipient completes L.A. Marathon

Scott Brown, the Murrieta resident who received a new heart a year ago, completed the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday in eight hours, 47 minutes and 45 seconds.

Brown, 36, got a heart transplant at UCLA's medical center last year after his became enlarged, threatening his life. He said he decided to do the marathon to raise awareness about organ donation and to show his children that he could handle intense athletic activities, as he had in the past.

Our Love and Prayers to Betsy and Stephen,

PRODOS & SYDNEY KENDALL

(Melbourne, Australia)

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UPDATE:

It looks like his best option now is a heart transplant and he will qualify for the list as soon as he is on the VAD which can hold him until a heart is available.

Dear Betsy, With others here, I'm sure that the decision to transplant is probably a good thing, as Stephen's heart was damaged and would have limited his chances at full recovery. There is no better place to do this procedure, and, thanks to you and your doctor, Stephen's right where he should be, under the given circumstances.

I'm sorry I'm a blood overachiever (A+) and that human bilateral symmetry stopped short of 2 hearts; all I can offer is my affection for you and Stephen and anything that could reasonably be mailed from Oklahoma.

With the VAD, I understand that Stephen will be able to get up and move around, tethered, but mobile ("The VAD allows patients to be mobile, and return home." - http://www.clevelandclinic.org/heartcenter...ailure/lvad.htm). Hopefully, the wait for a replacement heart will not be long, but it's good to know that this technology would allow him to be up and around and aware of just how important he is to many people beyond his wife and son.

The best, again, to you and Stephen.

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I just now read this post for the first time, and all I can think is "wow." Best wishes for a good recovery, and you will certainly be in my thoughts for the days to come.

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UPDATE:

Stephen's blood pressure and cardiac output are holding with the assistance of the balloon pump, but the main issue now is infection. Despite the antibiotics, his temperature was 101.8 and his white blood count is up slightly. Removing the balloon pump might resolve the infection, but he needs the support of the pump. He can't get the more powerful Ventricular Assistance Device until the infection is resolved. The situation is very fragile now and I wish I had better news.

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Stephen's blood pressure and cardiac output are holding with the assistance of the balloon pump, but the main issue now is infection. Despite the antibiotics, his temperature was 101.8 and his white blood count is up slightly.
If you want us to do any research on alternative (possibly new) antibiotics (if such exist) then it might be good to know more about the infection and his current antibiotics...

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I find myself thinking often about a man I've never met - Stephen Speicher. I check here several times a day hoping for good news. I'll be relieved when I'm able to read that Stephen is past this and on his way to recovery.

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I never knew that one could form such an attachment through the internet...

I feel the same way, Janet. I haven't said much, but hearing about Stephen's troubles has made me realize how much all the advice and encouragement he's given to me over the last couple of years has meant. I wish it wasn't the case that it often takes a distressing event such as this to make one aware of such things.

I know he's in good hands, though--both the doctors' and Betsy's.

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UPDATE:

Stephen's temperature is down to 100.2 and his white blood count is down a little bit too. I hope this is the beginning of a trend. His cardiac output is steady and acceptable even as they are slowly reducing some of his medicines.

To those who have suggested drugs and procedures or have volunteered to do research, I appreciate it, but I think his doctors are doing a very good job without our help. And I mean doctorS.

He is being examined and treated by some of the world's top experts in cardiology, pulmonary and vascular medicine, nephrology, infectious diseases, immunology, pharmacology, etc. I am constantly asking them questions, writing down their answers, and then researching them in the UCLA Biomedical Library in between visits to Stephen's bedside. I find that the latest research not only confirms his doctors' practice, but that often the journal article was written or reviewed by one of Stephen's doctors. UCLA is state-of-the-art medicine.

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UPDATE:

Stephen's temperature is down to 100.2 and his white blood count is down a little bit too. I hope this is the beginning of a trend. His cardiac output is steady and acceptable even as they are slowly reducing some of his medicines.

Betsy, this is great. Go Stephen!
To those who have suggested drugs and procedures or have volunteered to do research, I appreciate it, but I think his doctors are doing a very good job without our help. And I mean doctorS.

He is being examined and treated by some of the world's top experts in cardiology, pulmonary and vascular medicine, nephrology, infectious diseases, immunology, pharmacology, etc.

It's UCLA. I believe that. These are the guys that create medical breakthroughs. ... but... I just saw this article on stem cells and... :)

Is this something they're looking at or doing at UCLA? It's supposedly a holograft, so no rejection potential and supposedly could heal a damaged heart and does not preclude a transplant... just a thought.

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UPDATE:

Stephen's temperature is down to 100.2 and his white blood count is down a little bit too. I hope this is the beginning of a trend. His cardiac output is steady and acceptable even as they are slowly reducing some of his medicines.

Thank Man. May the trend continue.

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I have no doubt that everything possible is being done for Stephen, by his doctors and by Betsy.

T

I also have no doubt that Stephen is doing everything possible. When you work with critical patients, you learn to tell who is fighting to live and who is not, even in a comatose patient. I cannot stress how important this is to kind of danger Stephen faces. Stephen has the character and love of life necessary for the fight. He is a great souled man.

I sympathize with those who are frustrated sitting on the sidelines waiting. I started writing letters to Stephen. I know it's just a psychological pacifier, but it helps. Who knows--maybe when he's better, I'll even send them to him. Betsy's updates help more than she knows. I want so much to help make things easier for her, and here she is doing just that for me. Betsy, too, has a great soul.

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UPDATE:

Stephen's temperature is down to 100.2 and his white blood count is down a little bit too. I hope this is the beginning of a trend. His cardiac output is steady and acceptable even as they are slowly reducing some of his medicines.

To those who have suggested drugs and procedures or have volunteered to do research, I appreciate it, but I think his doctors are doing a very good job without our help. And I mean doctorS.

He is being examined and treated by some of the world's top experts in cardiology, pulmonary and vascular medicine, nephrology, infectious diseases, immunology, pharmacology, etc. I am constantly asking them questions, writing down their answers, and then researching them in the UCLA Biomedical Library in between visits to Stephen's bedside. I find that the latest research not only confirms his doctors' practice, but that often the journal article was written or reviewed by one of Stephen's doctors. UCLA is state-of-the-art medicine.

Hello Betsy,

This is good news!! I was worried there for a while.

You are quite right about amateur researches. After all Stephen is in the care of the best of doctors and at one of the world's best equipped facilities and what's more, he is not being told that his heart is just fine and that he should go home and try harder to get better as I have been told most of my life (Yikes!) and as a result had to resort to such researches and self medication and elective surgeries bordering on self mutilation just so I could live long enough to get the kind of treatment Stephen is getting.

If I may be so bold as to suggest, spend your time with Stephen and take good care of yourself. Ask questions by all means and seek answers too so you will know exactly what's happening with Stephen but please don't waste your precious time with too much research. I am not saying that you are doing too much research but I just wanted to convey to you that there is such a thing as too much research and traumatizing yourself by second guessing the doctors when you don't need it and given where Stephen is, you don't need it and your time is valuable so try to relax, a tough enough job under these circumstances.

I will be hoping that Stephen can soon be put on VAD and then on to transplant list and my best wishes are with you.

Regards,

Hema

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UPDATE:

...

For the transplant operation, Stephen will need fresh, compatible, blood. If you, or someone you know, is either type B- or O-, healthy, and can come to UCLA to donate, that would be great.

Betsy,

How is the list of prospective willing blood donors looking ? Unfortunately my blood type is +ve. But can we help in others ways like post messages in forums/lists/clubs etc. ?

-Pooja

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Wow, I've been behind on reading the Forum and had no idea until now about Stephen's problem. I can only add my hopes for a speedy resolution. Thank you for keeping us informed. I've never met either of you, but feel as though I know you both through your excellent posts. Please take care of yourself, too.

Steve

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Stephen's temperature is down to 100.2 and his white blood count is down a little bit too. I hope this is the beginning of a trend. His cardiac output is steady and acceptable even as they are slowly reducing some of his medicines.

That's terrific! That's the best news I've heard all day.

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