God bless you.
After spending a week being re-examined by doctors at the Mayo Clinic in
Rochester, Minn., I have been reclassified from Status 7 to Status 1B on the
national heart transplant list.
Thank you, Jesus!!!
Jody Hanson, highly celebrated veteran nurse and Mayo's heart transplant
coordinator, called me with the good news on Monday, June 14. She did so after
she had gotten the decision reached by the clinic's academy of cardiologists,
cardiac surgeons and other physicians and specialists who make these decisions
after reviewing the patient's latest medical information.
The highest rating is Status 1A. These congestive heart failure patients get
the first crack at a new heart because they are in serious condition, have suffered
a fresh heart attack, or they are already in-patients in one of Mayo's local hospitals.
The second rating is Status 1B--mine. This is for patients who are in dire
need of a heart transplant but are not in critical condition because medicines,
like Dobutamine, a so-called amphetamine for the heart, or a heart pump has
stabilized their health.
Mayo first placed me on the national heart transplant list on Nov. 5, 2009.
After being placed on the heart transplant list, I was hoping that my next major
surgery would be the heart transplant. I had already been through a triple bypass
on Feb. 14, 2001, another major surgery three months later to correct the failure
to stabilize my sternum on Feb. 14, a stenting of my main left artery in November of
2005, another stenting in May of 2006, a brachetherapy on May 21, 2008, when
radiation seeds were injected into my prostate to fight prostate cancer and a back
surgery on Aug. 10, 2009.
While preparing to return to the Mayo in January to be admitted to the
hospital in preparation for a 1A status, I suffered a life-threatening cardio-genic
shock on Jan. 11 while desperately trying to confirm a phone call from Blue Cross
Blue Shield telling me that they had been informed that my 38-year employment
with the Sun-Times and my heart insurance had both been terminated.
Is there any worse news a heart transplant candidate can receive?
The Jan. 11 setback resulted in a 30-day hospital stay where I was on life
support twice and had to have open-heart surgery on Jan. 29 at the University of
Chicago Medical Center, where world-renown cardiac surgeon, Dr. Valluvan
Jeevanandam, implanted the heart pump that probably saved my life and since
has been sustaining me until I get a new heart.
Baring a new setback or other changes, my next operation will be a heart
transplantation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. That could happen today,
tomorrow, next week, next month or later this year or next year, whenever a
heart is made available for a patient like me with B positive blood.
As some of you already know, and for you who don't, "O" blood (negative or
positive) is the most common blood type. "A", positive or negative, is the second
most common blood type. Then, "B", positive or negative, is the third most common.
"So your chances of getting a new heart are better than most because of
your blood type," Hanson said.
Status 1B means that I must now be prepared to be on the operating table
in four hours once I have been informed that a new heart is available for me.
Because Chicago is 365 miles from Rochester, I would have to be transported
by air ambulance to the Mayo to comply with the four-hour time window.
Another bit of good news during my extensive tests at the Mayo is the fact
that my PSA, which was 5.7 when my prostate cancer was diagnosed on April 10,
2008, is now at .36, its lowest since my dire diagnosis. This means my prostate
cancer remains in aggressive regression.
Oh what a mighty God we serve!
Now, by the grace and mercy of God, I am one step away from my new heart.
I was hoping to have that new heart by now since my wife of 42 years, Joyce, is
retiring next month and we want to have at least one more grand vacation before
the sun sets on our lives.
My father-in-law, Roscoe Wooten, worked hard at two jobs supporting his
family before retiring at age 64 . Then he died a few months later from lung
My father, the late Rev. A.D. Banks, never saw any retirement before he
died of a stroke also at age 64.
My dear mother, Sarah Lorraine Banks, died of blooding poisoning at age
42 after the 13th baby she was bearing died in her womb and she, for several
reasons influenced by racism in Mississippi, where we lived at the time, could not
receive appropriate medical care in time.
I've obviously been through a lot. My body has been on bloody battlefield for a
phethora of sicknesses and surgeries.
But God has brought me through.
God remains my refuge and strength, a very present help in my times of
God remains my primary care physician.
God's amazing grace remains sufficient for me. His mercy remains
everlasting and His truth still endures to all generations.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
God bless you.