Friday, December 30, 2011

Good news about Greg's liver

You may have already heard that we had to leave the Radiate conference in Baltimore yesterday due to blood test results that indicated significant damage to Greg's liver.  The transplant team wanted Greg to come back immediately so that he could have an ultrasound on his liver this morning and a series of follow-up blood tests to determine what was going on.

So far, we have good news!  The ultrasound of his liver was completely normal!  Additionally, one of the concerning blood test results was back to normal and the other was significantly improved.  We are still waiting to hear the results from the rest of the test (we won't hear until Monday unless there is an emergency) but Greg's transplant coordinator was very relieved at the results so far and thinks that the problem may be reversing itself.  It's likely that the steroid treatment he had in the hospital sent his body in to a sort of "shock" that caused his liver to release a bunch of enzymes indicating damage - and that the further he gets from the treatment, the better his liver will be.  The other possible causes will hopefully be ruled out as they get the blood test results back.

This is a huge answer to prayer and such a relief - some pretty scary possibilities were running through our minds!  Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for us these past two days.

Greg is still not feeling well - and he actually slept most of today because he is just completely exhausted.  His coordinator said that extreme fatigue is one of the side effects of the IV drug he had in the hospital, and that being on so many steroids in such a short period of time would leave him feeling really poorly for a while.  She is concerned about his shortness of breath though, because that would not be explained by the steroids. 

His next biopsy to check for rejection is January 9th.  Hopefully we'll have some great news that his liver is completely fine by Monday!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Going home today!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Greg is going home today!  He's receiving his last dose of steroids right now so hopefully he'll be home early this afternoon!  He's feeling pretty awful, but glad to be getting out of the hospital.  We won't know if this treatment was effective until his biopsy in 2 weeks.  We're praying that it is!  If not, he'll come back to the hospital for another round of treatments.

The great news is that we'll still be able to go to the conference in Baltimore!  He's probably not going to be feeling very well (it'll take some time for the swelling of his heart to go down) but he's looking forward to being there with our students.

Thanks for all of your prayers this week!  Merry (early) Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Still Rejecting

The hospital just called with the results of the biopsy - as you can tell from the title of this post Greg's still rejecting.  He's now at a 2R which is actually a higher level of rejection than before.  It seems like the oral anti-rejection drugs didn't do anything to help.

He's getting a shower and then we're heading in to the hospital.  He'll be on IV anti-rejection drugs for 3 days and we'll either get home late Christmas Eve or sometime Christmas day.

We're pretty disappointed.  Thankfully, Greg's parents and 2 brothers will be able to come to visit us tomorrow through the 26th so we'll have some good company while at the hospital.  I'm not sure what to expect as far as how the drugs will make him feel or if we'll have much information to share over the next few days, but I'll try to send out updates if there's anything to share.

Please pray that the drugs will be effective and that Greg's body will respond quickly to them.

Thanks so much,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Good news/ Bad news

Greg's biopsy was early this morning and while we don't have the results yet, we did gain some information from the doctors.
Good news first:  Greg's heart is begining to innervate, which means that nerves from his body are growing into his new heart.  This process will take a couple more years to complete but the doctors were excited to see that it's already begun!  It's a really good sign that it started so soon.  When it's complete, his heart rate will be controlled by his nervous system again instead of by hormones (such as adrenaline) and the heart's internal "pacemaker".  The downside to this happening so soon is that the doctors accidentally hit a nerve during the biopsy which made Greg really dizzy (he's awake during the biopsies), prolonged his procedure, and left him feeling pretty awful afterward.

Now for the bad news: Greg's heart pressures were too high during the biopsy.  Essentially this means one of two things: either he's still rejecting, or he's done rejecting but his heart is still recovering from the rejection episode (which would have swollen it, increasing the pressures).  This is consistent with how he's been feeling - short of breath and fatigued.  We'll hopefully get the results of the biopsy tomorrow afternoon and then the doctors will take into consideration the pressures from today when they make a treatment plan.  We're hopeful that he's done rejecting and he won't be admitted to the hospital, but it seems less likely at this point.

Would you please pray with us?  This isn't an emergency situation by any means, but it's looking like Greg there are some more steps to take to get Greg through this rejection episode.  Thanks so much!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rejection Update

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and encouragement in light of Greg's recent rejection.  We've been very blessed by all the support we've received!

This has been an interesting week for us.  Greg finished his prednisone treatment yesterday but is still feeling the effects of it.  The high doses gave him a lot of side effects and he's extremely worn out and feels pretty awful.  However, he was able to participate in most of our ministry activities this week which was a blessing!

Yesterday we met with one of the heart transplant program doctors to discuss the results of Greg's 1 year anniversary tests.  For the most part everything looks really good!  There are some changes that Greg will be making to address the tests that had less desirable results, and we learned about some measurements Greg can take daily to help watch for signs of rejection in the future.  All in all, the appointment was really positive and even with Greg's current rejection status the doctors are please with how he's doing.  They reminded us again that everyone experiences rejection at some point and the important things is that we caught it early before damage to his heart could begin.

Greg will have a biopsy next Wednesday to determine if his body is still rejecting his heart.  If everything is back to normal (from the prednisone treatments) they won't make any changes to his medications or biopsy schedule and we'll be able to visit his family for Christmas and attend the Radiate conference that he's teaching at!  If he's still a level 2 or has increased to a level 3 rejection, he will spend 3 days receiving IV treatments and then will have a biopsy a week later to see if anything has improved.  The great news is that the doctors will likely allow him to go to Radiate to teach (maybe just overnight depending on how he's doing) even if he's still rejecting since it's only an hour away and so close to Johns Hopkins (which has a transplant center)!  This is a huge answer to prayer!!

On Saturday I will be traveling to see my grandma and Greg's dad (and possibly one of his brothers) will be coming to see Greg.  I'll come back on Tuesday in time to get some sleep and go with Greg to his biopsy Monday morning.  All of the details have worked out really well and it is so clear to me that God is directing everything related to this situation and answering many of our prayers.

I'll let you know when we find out the results of Greg's next biopsy.  Thank you so much for your continued prayers!


Friday, December 9, 2011


We just found out that Greg's biopsy showed that he's having a level 2 rejection.  Thankfully it was caught early enough that he doesn't have to be admitted to the hospital right away.  Starting today he'll be on heavy doses of prednisone for 5 days and then they will repeat the biopsy on the 21st to see if things have improved.  If not he will be admitted to the hospital for more intense treatment. 

We feel a mix of emotions - the biggest one being surprise.  Although in hindsight he was starting to have shortness of breath like he used to before he had his new heart and was dealing with massive heart failure. 

Unfortunately the timing of this is really disruptive to our plans for the holidays.  We were going to be in Pittsburgh with his family and I was going to fly to Illinois to see my grandmother during that time - now we're trying to figure out how I can still see her but be back in time to be with Greg for his biopsy.  Another complication is that he is speaking at the Radiate conference in Baltimore from the 27th-1st but now might not be able to go. 

Please pray that the prednisone would quickly stop the rejection, that his biopsy on the 21st would come back with 0 rejection, and that Greg will be able to speak at the conference.  We're feeling pretty overwhelmed with all of this - scared, angry, sad... a whole bunch of emotions are flooding in.  Please also pray that we'll be able to fix our minds on the truth that God is in control, that this is all a part of his plan, and that we can rest in Him instead of feeling panic.

Thanks so much,