The day before I had my heart transplant I had gone to a friends birthday party, how strange is that? Less than 24 hours later I was in theatre having surgery to save my life.
So, after that 1am phone call it had been a mad rush of bags being packed and family being called whilst I sat downstairs groggy and confused. The transport arrived and off we went at 1.30 in the morning speeding through the streets lights flashing. We arrived at the hospital at around 3 am. Walking down the corridors I was nervous yet unusually calm. We were taken to a side room on the cardiac ward to wait for the theatre to say everything was okaii. I actually managed to fall asleep until 7 am when I was woken by a nurse who told us that they were ready and that it was time to go down to theatre.
I have no recollection of what happened after that. My Mum told me that the last thing I said was “don’t worry Mum” When I asked my Mum what my Dad and her did whilst I was in theatre she told me that they sat outside and waited or went for little walks around the hospital never to far though ” We might’ve looked at the clock i’m not sure I dont think time even registered”. The nurse would come and update them every now and then,but for the most part it was a waiting game for them.
Eight hours later the surgeon appeared she told them that everything went well and that I was out of theatre. An hour later they were allowed to see me,but before they did they were told that as my heart had been transported over from Europe it was slightly swollen so to give it some time to recover she had had to leave my chest open. My Mum has said that walking into that room for the first time was the biggest shock of her life, when she stood over me she could actually see my heart,she could watch it beating. I was also on an ECMO machine which she says added to enormity of the whole thing. Seeing all these wires and tubes going in and out left her feeling faint at first,but she says that after a while she got kind of used to it.
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
“The ECMO machine is similar to the heart-lung bypass machine used for open heart surgery. Extra corporeal means ‘outside the body’, and a membrane oxygenator is a piece of equipment which delivers oxygen into your child’s blood.Therefore, ECMO is the use of an artificial lung (membrane) located outside the body, (extra corporeal) that puts oxygen into the blood (oxygenation) and continuously pumps this blood into and around the body.”
The next day my heart had recovered enough to be taken off the ECMO machine and for my chest to finally be closed up. A week after the operation it was decided that I was well enough to be woken up. At first I could only manage a few hours a day due to all the morphine I was on. Everything was hazy and nothing registered during the time that I was awake, my Mum told me I would watch Grease on repeat the whole time but not really be taking it in. It was a start though. As they decreased the morphine I became more alert and started being able to hold a conversation. That was when they started to try and get me moving.
Daniella x x