ALEC GOT A LIVER TRANSPLANT YESTERDAY!!!
Rampton disclaimer: Per Alec's permission we are sharing some of our post-op pictures with you. You may have to look away, but this is just proof of a miracle:)
May 13th, 2014 is one of our new favorite dates. I can’t even begin to describe the relief we have right now. I am going to write this email to Alec to let him know just how amazing he did despite all of the craziness.
YOU ARE A CHAMP! The things you have had to endure over these past years are mind blowing. You have done it with such courage, faith, strength, happiness, and love. I am so proud of you, and I am so happy that you chose me to be by your side through all of this. I just wanted to let you know what you went through this past night and all the grief and “excitement” ahem, fear you put into our lives while you were on the Surgery table. The doctors absolutely love you and have come to know you and our little family over the years. They have learned that you are a cool dude, you don’t complain, and that you have an understanding and grateful attitude for them and the hard, beautiful work that they do. All this time, so many of us have loved being by your side to serve you as you are so easy to love and help because of your kind heart. You weren’t a difficult patient. Ever . . .Until yesterday starting at 9:45 a.m. when they began the no turning back liver transplant surgery until 10:30 p.m. when they closed you up.
I would like to document the events that transpired yesterday so that we may be able to reflect and draw on the strength and faith that we had in order to have this great ending.
Around 7 p.m. on Monday, May the 12th we learned that we had a possible organ coming your way. You were in your hospital bed as the nurses came to do rounds and pass along the information to the next nurse that would be taking care of you that evening. Our nurse, Stephanie, had told you she was excited that you were going to get a liver that night. That was the first you had heard about it and it almost sounded like a joke to you (a mean joke if it ever was one, but it wasn’t thank goodness.) Just then I enter your room and the nurses say, “That’s so great! We are so happy for you!” I look at Alec like, “what are they talking about?” He looks at me like, “I don’t know, I am hearing this too right now.” And so it began. They started all of the pre-op stuff (i.e. blood transfusions, plasma, fluids, EKG chest x-ray, etc.) that we have come to know a little too well as you have been pre-opt many times with out seeing the operation part. I am happy to say that you made it to the operating room this time and successfully came out with a new organ.
Saturday night, you told me that you prayed soooooo hard for Heavenly Father to grant you an organ. Sunday came and your Meld went from 37 to 40. The highest we have ever seen it go and a sure sign that good fortune would come promptly. You said you felt peace ever since that prayer. I am so happy you did because it was what ultimately calmed your heart and prepped you for what was a pretty intense surgery. All this time, we have really been close to the spirit. We lean on each other and the Lord for guidance and reassurance. From the beginning, you told me, “I’m not going anywhere.” Anytime I ever felt scared, or spent a little too much time imagining the future and the “what ifs” I would remind myself or those 4 words, “I’m not going anywhere.” It’s funny how we give and take when the other one needs strength. When you were unsure of things you looked to me. I would assure you that I felt peace, and that you would be fine. I loved the fact that you carried the peace with you and for us the day of your transplant.
We anxiously waited from 7 p.m. that night until 5:00 a.m. that morning (now May the 13th) with little sleep due to the constant prepping and also the nerves. At 5:30 we said a prayer together on your bedside. You said it. You blessed the doctors with a calmed nerve, and that you would be safe. You said that you were grateful for our family. You were grateful for the person donating their organ and blessed his/her family. You were so happy that your prayers, my prayers and all of the prayers said on your behalf were being answered in this very moment. After that I helped wheel you down to the O.R. lobby. A sweet little moment was when the guy wheeling you down said, Hi, I’m Miles, and I will be taking you down to the O.R.” We both smiled knowing that at least we had a Miles there with us. It may not have been “our” lil’ Miles, but a Miles would do. There we said our goodbyes. Lots of Love you’s, be strong, think about our family, and it’s happening!
I went upstairs to take a snooze as we had a couple hours before you actually would go into surgery. Best 2 hours of sleep ever! I was jostled by an O.R. nurse telling me that there was an important decision to be made downstairs. She told me that she thought Alec can’t make that alone, so she said, “I’ll go get his wife.” The decision was this: Whether to wait for another organ offer as this organ was a little fatty (30-35%) or accept it. (We found out later that his first transplant was the same and it had been awesome! It worked strongly and it was just that his PSC disease re-occurred. There is still a chance of that happening again after this transplant but most likely we have good odd that it won’t). Possible complications could be a slower kick-start after transplant among some other things. I think this was probably the reason I never felt total confidence and peace in this offer. We knew for awhile about our surgery but didn’t want to involve anyone but our parents and immediate family members. Not because we didn’t love them, but because this is some serious heavy emotional stuff. We didn’t want to retract a statement saying, “we are going into surgery, and oh wait . . .it didn’t happen. False alarm. (Been there, done that, not doing it again!) The only way I can describe what I have been feeling (and maybe this is how you feel also Alec) is this. I don’t know if you have ever been to a little kids “splash” park. There are all of these little water features the kids can run through, squirt guns to shoot and puddles to jump in. Well, there is a particular water feature they have where the water is continually dripping into a bucket 8 feet off the ground. Once it is filled to the top the weight tips the bucket one way or the other and water dumps down on the kids below. I feel like that kid waiting for the water to tip and dump all over me. Except I wasn’t excited to get wet . . .at all. If the bucket tipped it wasn’t going to be a good thing. This week really would have tipped me over the wrong way. So, that’s why we had to wait until we knew for sure this surgery was going to happen. And so it all began . . . . .
Surgery took from 9:45a.m. until-10: 30 p.m. (what is that 13hours and 15 min?) The surgeon was Dr. Alonso, the best surgeon ever. She was attentive, sharp, smart, and like one of the docs told us, “she’s like a Jack Russell, in that she is feisty and she will never give up.” I am so happy that this was the case. She was our blessing yesterday. She was the girl to do the job and we are so grateful for her and her team. We have established such great friendships with all of these people that have taken care of you and our family over the past years, especially the past 3 1/2 weeks we’ve stayed in the hospital. It’s not a doctor/patient relationship; it’s a doctor/Alec, Megan and Miles relationship. We give hugs (lots of them) not handshakes. It is so rare and I know the outcome could have been different with out Dr. Alonso and her team. After coming out of surgery, she told us it could have gone either way. “That was the most difficult surgery to date. He just kept bleeding, and bleeding, and bleeding, and bleeding and bleeding! I am just happy we are here.” I told her “thank you for saving Miles’ daddy’s life.” She said she actually thought of Miles and it motivated her to make sure Alec would come out alive. I’ve heard that a lot from all those who participated. They love you Alec. We all do. You connect to all those who get to meet you. How special are you?! We all need you in our life. You make us better, happier, stronger, wiser, funnier, faithful-er (yes, I know that’s not a word but I was in a rhythm.)
Dr. Alonso called me (and your/my awesome fam while we were waiting) in the first portion of the surgery and the phone call scared the crap out of me and the rest of us. She said it was very difficult to get through all of your scarring and adhesions safely (later we learned that your old liver was ginormous and sort of attached itself to the aorta…um, scary much?) She told me she wasn’t going to approach it the regular way. She was smart and saw that is wasn’t safe. She would be going in blind and would most likely make a fatal mistake. She is awesome. She said the alternative was to open up your chest and open up your ribs so they could get a better view. So, enters into the picture a Thoracic Doc/Surgeon. My brother Ryan made me feel more peaceful about it when he made this statement. “Looks like the free-way is backed up and they have to take the frontage road.” So that they did. We waited a long time after that phone call with not much news, just the fact that it was really busy in there. I know it was a difficult time for them, but it was also a difficult time for us not knowing if you were going to make it out alive. I was told I looked tired and that I should take a nap. Whaaaaaa? There was no way, but I lay down anyway and listened to a Chopin station on Pandora. DID NOT HELP AT ALL. All it did was it left me alone in my thoughts (and probably the same scary thoughts your parents and everyone else had). “Is he going to make it? Is he going to be strong enough and live? What will I do with out you? What will Miles do with out you?!” So, I played Plants VS. Zombies 2 (way better than the first one) on the ipad as a distraction.
The best phone call of my life (of all of ours) was the call that said they safely got your old diseased liver out. I’m just guessing here but it seems they might have spent 7 hours alone just trying to get that puppy out. After that, we were able to breath, and I am hoping they felt better too. We will never really know just what went on in that operating room and all of the things they witnessed, but it’s safe to say I am glad I wasn’t in there to see it. It seemed the surgery progressed at a good pace and they safely finished at 10:30 p.m. Dr. Alonso pretty much busted down the doors in the waiting room looking for a familiar face. I don’t think she has ever seen your dad in casual clothes, only a suit, (Me neither, hehe. Such a classy man that man) and walked right pass him. Your sister Micah recognized your doc and said, "are you looking for the Rampton family?" I had pushed a couch up to the wall making it like a little cave so I could try and get some sleep. I hear commotion through my headphones and Dr. Alonzo practically scared the crap out of me but we embraced in a HUGE hug!!!! The relief in that girls eye were undeniable! We were so happy to see her and hear her tell us of your insanely difficult surgery and that you made it out alive. She said your surgery was the most difficult surgery to date. She said it could have gone either way in the operating room and that she was thrilled she was standing here with the news she had. We are happy you are here with us today and that she and everyone else there helped. We saw you later in the ICU and you looked beautiful!!!! I was so pleased to see how much better you looked from even the day before. Your coloring had already improved in a matter of 30 mins after having a new liver in your body. Your bilirubin dropped from 45 to 10 pretty much right after they transplanted you. Your liver already started working, making good clots, and doing what it is normally supposed to do. Don’t quote me on these numbers b/c/I may be off a tiny bit but the Anesthesiologist (Dr. Aiden) told me today that your surgery is the toughest surgery he has had to do also. During surgery he used 135 units of blood on you. They were worried their blood bank for you would run out and so they recycled your own blood being suctioned from your body. His job was to make sure with all the blood you were losing that you had enough in there to keep you alive. He told me that at any given time a man of your stature has a round 6 liters of blood in your body. The average liver transplant might get anywhere from 1-2 transfusions if that. Alec you got 7 whole body transfusions!!!!! Because of it, your potassium skyrocketed. But, once they put you on continuous dialysis things started to get into rhythm. The word on the street and in the hospital that day was that the O.R. room was a bloody mess.
We never know the ins and out of what goes on behind the scenes, and the beautiful people involved, but a Doc did tell me that if he could count how many people were in that room helping you that is was around 40! This makes me want to cry in joy for all of these hands that safely deliver you from danger. To these known and unknown angels thank you! Thank you from the top of our hearts (why do people say bottom? I never understood that phrase) Thank you for keeping our family together. Thanks for keeping my man alive. I have heard from so many of you your genuine concern for Alec, not patient in room 1020.
So here’s to every position here in the hospital. Cafeteria, phlebotomy, nurses, aides, pharmacist, cleaning lady, social work, nutritionist, P.A.s (Ben you are a stud and have been with us since transplant #1, and Jesse we haven't forgotten about you) Docs, surgeons, coordinators, O.R. peeps, EVERYBODY!!!!!!! THANK YOU! We love you! This has been a long, long, long, journey but thanks for being a part of it with us. You kept us happy through it all.
To all of our friends, family, and those we haven’t even met, THANK YOU. We have heard some of your beautiful and tender moments that you have experienced. We hear of prayer lists in the Temples in England, New York, Washington D.C. Chile, and others. We hear of beautiful meditations, and thoughts in nature. Even my sister-in-laws dog was wearing a RamptonStrong bracelet on his paw (Thanks Cano). We have received phone calls, texts, emails, hand written cards, food, lawn mowing, brownies, hugs, fasts, treats on our doorstep, etc. you name it, you did it . . . AND IT HELPED US GET THROUGH!
We have just been embraced in a big hug this last crazy year (and always) by all of you and we can’t wait to return the love.
Also, we want you to know that the money we raised last year for Alec’s fundraiser is a big relief for us. The insurance year started what a month and a half ago? And we have already reached out of pocket max (it ain’t cheap!!! thanks to our 3 and a half weeks here in the hospital and a transplant). But if it wasn’t for you, especially you Bonneville Mortgage Company! Our stomachs would be in our throats right now or however you say that phrase. Well, we would just be stressed out of our minds. Our savings would have already been gone now, so thank you. We will be using that money now for all of this crap. Ha-ha!
Alec will have a long difficult recovery. He already is doing amazing just in one-day post transplant. They will probably take his breathing tub out tomorrow as he is already breathing well on his own. Because he has a giant tube down his throat it has been hard to communicate. I gave him a pen and a piece of paper and the words he wrote to me were, “I Love You.” Sheeeesh, sure know how to make a girl feel loved. It sure is reciprocated. Also, you know he is feeling better because using the pen and paper later tonight he wrote, “Had a dream Miles putting honey in Megan’s hair.” Oh Alec! We love you! Alec is now in quarantine for the next 3 months. Which sadly means no visitors. It’s too dangerous. So help me protect him please. We would love to hear from you via email: email@example.com And please don't be offended if we don't respond individually because of well, the circumstances. But we love you! Please know that! We will make it up to you! We have been so phone sensitive waiting for doctors calls and updates that we jump out of a dead sleep to answer them. This week I will be sleeping a lot trying to recover from the autopilot my body has been on for the past year. So if you don’t mind holding off the phone calls, or text messages for the next week that would be great. I can’t hear a buzz on my phone and not go into an emergency fight or flight mode. So, definitely email. We want to hear from you. We want to share this with you. We have needed you this far and we still do. So thank you for your kindness and respect. If there is anything more to add, we will update our blog with that information. Alecandmeganrampton.blogspot.com I will post this email over there right now and add photos of our process.
Love to you all and mostly love to Alec’s organ donor. Because of you he is Alive. EVERYONE BE AN ORGAN DONOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IF YOU ALREADY ARE, SPREAD THE WORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!