Last week, I boarded a plane to Michigan to join my family in preparation for my Dad’s open heart surgery. At age 74 he was going into the U of M Cardiovascular Center for on overhaul of the quadruple bypass he had received 22 years before.
This time if was going to be a bit more complex with both the Aortic and Mitral valves severely compromised. After several days of preparation, on Monday, January 9th at 5:30 AM, the teams assembled. The operating team was led by Himanshu J. Patel, M.D., a specialist in surgery for thoracic and thoracoabdominal aortic disease, and surgery for valvular and aortic root disease and a host of pre-op, surgical, and post-op specialists. The support team was led by my Mom who had corralled family and friends for support and prayers.
The Expected and the Unexpected
Heart surgery is rarely routine, but lots of analysis and preparation prior to surgery told both teams what to expect. New by-passes were needed and the the valves would need to be repaired or replaced. The OR had been reserved for about 5 hours. When they went in, they found the unexpected. The prior grafts from the first by-pass had fused to the breast bone creating major complications. The team worked on Dad for almost 13 hours, cleaning up the old by-pass, replacing the Aortic valve, repairing the Mitrial and adding two new by-passes. Out in the Waiting Room, our support team waited and communicated with friends and family around the country. A CaringBridge and cell phones kept everyone linked. Communications and prayers flowed. At 8:30 PM, 15 hours after we had checked him in to pre-op, Mom led her team of family supporters into ICU to see Dad for the first time. Surrounded by a talented and caring ICU team and a loving cadre of family and friends, it was time for the next step on the journey to health and strength.
Over the next week in ICU, Dad rode the proverbial roller coaster. He had his share of ups and downs, but kept moving forward. The ICU team was on hand at every turn as were family and friends who shared support on-site or via the CaringBridge for both Mom and Dad. Updates flew over the internet with notes of encouragement coming back. He had had 669 virtual visitors and received over 100 notes cheering him. It was a miracle to see him sitting up and reading them on the laptop. By Saturday night Mom was able to share:
Today was a good day for Dick!
Dear Family and Friends,
Today Dick had a successful day! His heartbeat continues to be stable as well as his blood pressure. He strolled in the hallway with his nurse and was very proud of his accomplishment – we are also.
Hopefully a bed will be available tomorrow in the step-down unit. He looks very good and has lots of conversation and stories to tell. Things are beginning to get back to normal. There is still discomfort but that is to be expected with all he has experienced.
Thanks to your prayers and support and the wonderful team at U of M he is progressing.
Tying Back to the work being done at AZBio
The last 10 days gave me lots of time to think while I sat in ICU, and there are correlations between what we have been doing at AZBio and Dad’s surgery in many ways. We too have been on a journey back to health and strength as our industry has been riding its own rollercoaster due to the economy, uncertainty with changes in laws and regulations, and the challenges that some of our companies have faced in the struggle to survive and thrive. But at the same time we have also seen great successes with new breakthroughs, the assembling of committed teams, and convergence of our community both regionally and statewide.
We had our own by-pass in the area of communications as we re-established In the Loop and launched the new AZBio.org to keep the information flowing to you and about you across the web. In 2011 we repaired or replaced support systems with the addition of the KCA team and creation of the AZBio Jobing Career Center, AZBio1 on YouTube, recognized individual and team successes at the AZBio Awards and launched theTrailblazer Awards to recognize our legislative partners.
Committed support teams in the form of our AZBio Committees are bring us back to health and strength in the areas of communications, events, outreach, and government affairs. While partnerships with the Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Technology Council, ATIC, GPEC, The Flinn Foundation, and others connected us to the broader statewide community.
AZBio is gaining strength statewide as we continue to add both new members and renew existing members and supporters. Our 2012 AZBio Prospectus is filled with opportunities to engage, support, and join in with the teams that are helping us build momentum. Our rollercoaster ride is far from over, but as more and more of our community joins, provides support, and gets involved, our momentum increases. We get healthier and stronger day by day. If you need to join or renew you membership in AZBio you can do so here.
2012 will be a big year for AZBio and the more support we have from our members (our team) the faster we can move. More new programs are in the works to address the key factors that YOU have told us to focus on:
- Spreading the word on the value our community and our companies create with communication, events, and education
- Advocacy both here in AZ and in DC too
- Focusing on ways to access the capital resources our companies need to grow.
We’re convening the community. On January 26th from 5:30 – 7:30 PM we will gather for an Open House at Arizona’s newest bioscience incubator, The Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation at GateWay Community College. This community open house is your opportunity to connect with our community and our 2012 leadership as we introduce the 2012 AZBio Board of Directors. It’s your opportunity to get engaged, to show your support, and to share with us what YOU need to help your team gain more momentum too. We’ll be looking for you there. To register, click here.