Hiland Transplanted 11-02-09

| January 14, 2012 | 9 Comments

My name is Hiland.  I am one lucky guy.  After more than two years on the heart transplant wait list, I received the magical gift of a new life from a generous 25-year old donor.  This experience affected all family and many friends.

My wait and subsequent recovery have been challenging for every quadrant of my life.  I hope that this blog will help answer questions for those who are waiting or for those who are considering transplantation or for those in recovery and all their concerned caretakers.

I was listed at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York for 19 months before I transferred to Tampa General Hospital.  I have been treated by three stellar cardiologists in Albany, Donna Mancini at Columbia Pres and Dr. Debby Rynde-Hoffman of Tampa General.  I have spent an inordinate amount of time in the hospital prior to transplantation and a daunting amount of time in Tampa General Hospital and Albany Medical Center since the transplant.

My two-year review at TGH was extremely successful.  However, there is no simple way to describe my experience.  I guess “if it could go wrong, it did” is the best description of my transplant.  The beautiful, healthy heart that is now in me replaced a heart that was about four times larger.

On the wait list and in recovery, you must do your best to walk or exercise with mild resistance every day.  The healthier you are before transplantation, the more successful your heart transplantation will be.

In my recovery, I faced these challenges:

  • Aspergillus pneumonia in left lung.
  • Bacterial pneumonia in right lung.
  • Shingles
  • Salmonella (twice)
  • Chronic myopathy
  • Chronic neuropathy
  • Significant weight loss
  • Aspergillus in the spine  (from the lung)
  • Removal of spine between between discs T6 and T7.
  • Removal of two ribs to be placed between T6 and T7.
  • Insertion of 2 steel rods between T6 and T7.
  • Insertion of chicken wire to protect replaced spine.
  • Insertion of steel plate to protect the area.
  • Removal of gall bladder and 23 gallbladder stones.
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Massive clotting from knees down and from waist up.
  • Viral infection

As I said, my recovery has been challenging.  I prefer not to count the number of weeks spent in hospitals since my heart transplant. However, my last visit for treatment of the viral pneumonia was the first time in seven months that I have been hospitalized.  Ironically, I have not suffered any rejection.

I am not a physician.  I am a patient.  I will always be a patient. If you are transplanted, you may experience some of my challenges.  It is unlikely you would suffer them all.

In reviewing my heart transplant guides from Columbia Presbyterian and Tampa General, I feel these guides were more technical than necessary. Both guides explain transplant policies, procedures, stress the need for compliance, the risks of non-compliance and outline risks.  Personally, I do not feel the guides are a fair representation.  It is my hope that my plain language experiences will clarify the transplant process.

I repeat. I am not a physician. I am a patient.  All experiences on this site describe my patient experiences and observations and research results about certain topics of interest to heart transplant recipients.

Please feel free to post comments or send along a few questions.  Thank you for spending time with me.

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9 Comments on "Hiland Transplanted 11-02-09"

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  1. Jacqueline Smith Smallarz says:

    I have knowen Mr; Hiland Doolittle for a few years he was my boss for four years, and a wounder friend. he’s a upstanding heatfelt person, I’m so happy to hear about his great blessing that our sweet Lord has givein him. and also happy to hear that he is doing great.I’m so very happy for you Hiland. in my prayer your friend Jacqueline.

  2. Susan Whitfield Sawyer says:

    We Pheasant Laners had no idea what you have been going through but are thankful for your perseverance as well as good care from AMCH, CP and Tampa General. We’re praying for a smooth road forward. You are not only a patient – you are patient. It must have been the practice in putting up with all of us!

  3. Hiland Doolittle says:

    Gee Susan. It is so nice to hear from you. We saw the Furlongs sometime before leaving for Tampa. We bult a new house behind the former McCahill residence. We shouil;d be heading North before the end of May. Let’s stay in touch. If you are in the area sometime, please stop by. As for the transplant,it has been a test. As for Pheasant Lane, the shadow of the upper lane looms large. All we can do is hope to escape with a bit of dignity. I have had a few people ask me about the Pheasant – Woods Lane dynamic. We have just launched a new blog where we are interspersing tidbits of the storyline for a book. I would love any feedback or memories you and the gang are inclined to share.

  4. Hiland Doolittle says:

    The new site is http://www.hilanddoolittle.com/. Stop in now and then. Thanks for your kind words. All the best, Hiland

  5. Laura Ann Whitfield Raymond says:

    Dear Hiland,
    Oh my goodness: patient patient is an understatement. So good to hear from you, even if for such a difficult period. Maybe you should know this about Larry Clark sent to me from Susan. About a month ago, Larry Clark was taking his grandson to boarding school near Hartford, CT, and had a mild stroke in the hotel room – followed by two acute strokes. He was in Hartford hospital/rehab for a period of time, during which he had some complications, and then his sons moved him to a nursing/rehab facility near Corning, NY, where he lives and one of the sons/family lives. He had a stomach tube in at that point due to swallowing difficulties and was not enthusiastic about rehab. Robin wrote Lisa to share all this news and said she welcomed cards and short notes to Larry to encourage him. Subsequently, he had another set back with pneumonia and had to be re-hospitalized. When the time neared to decide whether he wanted to go back to rehab or to a different facility for more palliative care, he opted for rehab which has really encouraged the kids. They talk as though it’ll be a long haul to relearn some things, but possible and do-able.
    So, maybe you should send him a card to encourage him and send him the link to your blog.
    Meanwhile, I have lots of memories to share about growing up in the Lanes.
    What a group we were. You and Susan were in the younger group. I was more with the older group, but at times we all played together…softball in our orchard and later parties and dances….etc.
    I think a memoir would be great. Good luck and please stay in touch. Laura Ann

  6. Laura Ann Whitfield Raymond says:

    Forgot to give you Larry’s address: we’ve launched a card-sending campaign since Mark, his son, indicated he’s really been encouraged by hearing from people. He said to keep the notes short but just let him know we’re pulling for him. His address is 101 Creekside Drive, Room 121, Painted Post, NY 14870.
    Also, you look like your Mother and/or like a her side of the family…XO

  7. Hiland Doolittle says:

    Hi Laura Ann,

    Thanks. It has been an ordeal and a pretty unique recovery, bu we think we are on the mend now. Before the surgery, the only organ problem I had was the ticker. At this point, I am hopiong to have a few left! I am blessed and have certainly used more than nine lives.

    I could not capture your whole note. Mt e-mail is Cthodges@aol.com.

    I am writing my second book. This one is about upper and lower lanes and more. I am prone to exxageration, so dont be surprised.

    Occasionally I post an excerpt of overview of an excerpt.

    This is a new site. Try this article on for size.

    http://www.hilanddoolittle.com/my-books/cooey.html

    Please paste your comment into an e-mail. Really, really great to hear from.

  8. Bob Pitcock says:

    I truly enjoy reading all these various stories. I too am a heart transplant recipient, rec’d mine in January 28th 1991. I want to wish all of you, the best luck in the world. God Bless all

  9. Flo says:

    Dear Bob
    So nice to hear about your story. You are giving me strength and courage.. I had my heart transplant 5 months ago , so far my problem is not being able to absorb the progr af. I have constant diarrhea from the anti rejection Meds. Other than gaining 20 lbs since surgery I m ok.
    I will look out for your email and reply.
    God bless n keep in touch

    Flo

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