Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Questions Anyone?

Since this whole “heart thing” began, people have asked me a lot of questions. I know many others have countless questions they haven’t even asked, probably because I rarely summon the energy to answer my phone or respond to e-mails these days – please don’t take it personally, I just spend the vast majority of my time working or sleeping. I hope you know how sincerely grateful I am for all of the positive thoughts and support, despite the crickets you sometimes hear in return. Since I can’t seem to keep up with the emails and cards and phone calls coming my way, I thought I’d address some of the frequently asked questions here.

Do you have dietary restrictions?
Yes, I am currently on a low-sodium and caffeine-free diet. I’m told I can have caffeine again once I have a new ticker, but I’m not sure about the sodium thing…I’m sort of afraid to ask!

What can I do to help?
So many people have asked what they can do, and I’m so grateful for the many offers. Besides a healthy heart (which I don’t want to take from any of you!), I don’t need a thing. I do always enjoy receiving emails and cards with your positive thoughts and well-wishes, so thank you for sending them.

When will the transplant take place?
While it would be great to have the procedure scheduled in advance, heart transplantation just doesn’t work that way. Timing is completely dependent on when a match is identified. While that could happen anytime, my money’s on June. It could be May, it could be September, but the average wait for my hospital is 1.7 months.

How many other people are awaiting hearts?
There are a total of 35 people waiting for hearts in New Jersey, which is the “universe” that I’m concerned with in terms of my wait. There are a total of 8 people (myself included) that are my status or above, have my blood type and have been listed for at least 90 days. There are only 2 females (myself included) listed with my blood type, which is a good thing since one match criterion is body size. I am the only person younger than 35 waiting for a heart in NJ (most are 50-64).

How does the process work once a match is identified?
While a lot of people seem to think doctors can store organs on ice for extended periods of time, unfortunately Encino Man was just a movie. Hearts only last for a few hours after brain death, so once a match is identified, a whirlwind of activity will begin. I’ll get a phone call and will need to report to the hospital within two hours to be prepped for surgery. At the same time, my cardiologist will travel to wherever the heart is located to evaluate it and confirm whether or not it’s a good match. Assuming it is, he will then bring the heart back to my hospital.

How long are surgery and recovery?
The surgery lasts 4-6 hours and is apparently pretty uncomplicated relative to other major operations. I’m told I can expect to feel more energized as soon as I come out of my haze and may be able to walk (albeit not far) the day after surgery. I expect to be in the hospital for 7-10 days, which seems like a blink at this point, and then will continue my recovery from home. I’m not sure how long the full recovery period will be, but I’m thinking I should be pretty normal (at least as compared to how normal I was before this all began…) after 4-6 months.

While I look forward to having the energy to e-mail and call all of my wonderful friends and family, I just don’t seem to have the bandwidth to keep up with more than a few people these days. Even when I don’t respond, please know that I so appreciate the voicemails and e-mails and cards from all of you. I hope this post helped answer some of your questions and I look forward to connecting with each of you once my energy is restored!


  1. I think that "says it all." I can attest to the gratitude that Andrea feels for all of the thoughts, prayers, e-mails, and calls coming her way. I can also attest to the fact that with a blood pressure in the 80's (normal is around 120), she has little energy. By the time she has commuted and worked a 10 hr. day, she is pretty pooped. She eats and sleeps. Please know how much I, as her mom, also appreciate your positive energy and continued connection to "my little girl." Please keep it comin'. Ann

  2. This eclipseoftheheartgirl is a rock, with a figurative heart as strong as her literal heart is weak. After a full day of work at her office in Skillman,NJ, she met us for dinner last nite in Princeton, then drove home to New Brunswick. We are thankful she can await transplantation as a functioning person. Her doctors here saved her life and her noncardiac organs last fall. Her support has been strong at Johnson and Johnson. She feels the support of her friends and family. Thanks to all of you for caring.