God bless you.
Lean over and tell somebody near you, "Lacy Banks told me to tell you
that God is still in the blessing business."
Sisters and brothers, as of yesterday (Nov. 16, 2010), The Mayo Clinic's
main unit, in Rochester, Minn., has elevated me to the very top of their heart
I am now in the 1A classification, the clinic's highest, with nobody ahead of
me for B-positive blood types.
If I get my healthier heart within the next month, I want to retire within the
following six weeks. This is half the time normally accorded for heart
transplantation recovery. But it will give me time to have the operation covered by
a major insurance carriers as primary provider and Medicare as secondary, thus
sparing my wife and me exorbitant out-of-pockets expenses. It would also provide
valuable time to make the transition to Medicare as primary provider and find the
best Medicare supplement.
At age 67, I believe I am the oldest reporter at the paper. I have been
working for the Sun-Times for 38 years and two and a half months. I'm tired
children. Joyce, my wife of 42 years and girlfriend for 49, has already returned
at age 65. And she makes me sick being able to chill whenever she wants to.
I want to get me new heart, retire, preach God's word better than ever and enjoy
some retirement. My mama died at 42 and never got to retire. My father died at
64, after pastoring for 50 years. He never retired and we never had health
insurance and we had to pass the hat to help bury him. My father-in-law also died
at age 64 just months after he had retired. I pray to do better for my family.
When a heart becomes available in the Mayo Clinic's midwest region of
Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, I will be its first recipient if the heart is for
my blood type and body size. If a heart, within my blood type and body size,
becomes available within 500 miles of Rochester, to include Chicago, St. Louis,
Kansas City, Etc., I would also qualify for it after the first regional option has been
exhausted and if I am the leading candidate within 500 miles..
According to Jody Hanson, my heart transplant coordinator of the clinic,
there is "a very strong possibility," some rank it as high at 70 percent, that I will
receive my new heart within a month.
Because I am being sustained by a heart pump, or Heartmate II LVAD (left-
ventricular assist device), and because I am 385 miles away from Rochester and
not an in-patient in Rochester, I am being accorded this privileged rank through
the month of December.
Joyce and I already have our bags pack and a choice or two air
ambulances and two private jets on standby alert to fly us to Rochester within
the four hours they want me to be on the operating table once they locate a
heart for me.
In the spring of this year, I had all along hoped to retire no later than the end
of next month because I was hoping to have had my new heart by now.
Unfortunately, I had suffered a critical setback. False information in a Jan. 11 phone
call from Sheri Stokes, Blue Cross Blue Shield, telling me that my Sun-Times
employment and health insurance coverage had been terminated, excited me into
a heart attack (more specifically, a cardio-genic shock) as I desperately called
Jeannie Smyers, Barbara Ercoli, my union reps, my sports editor and others at the
paper trying to confirm the devastating news.
By the time I was assured, by Jeannie and Barbara, that this was false
information, I had spent 30 days in the hospital--rotating between South Suburban
Hospital, Northwestern Hospital and the University of Chicago Medical Center--
trying to save my life. I was placed on three-day life support twice before I
underwent open-heart surgery to have the heart pump implanted by Dr. Valluvan
Jeevanandam on Jan. 29 at the UCMC.
I resumed work for the Chicago Sun-Times on April 5.
I appreciate the patience and generous cooperation by the Sun-Times in
helping ease the load during this period of my grave health issues. I know that the
paper has been laying off employees younger and more talented. I am presently
conversing with human resources and union insurance reps to lay the foundation
for my retirement and transition in insurance coverage.
It's been 31 months since Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, University of Chicago
Medical Center chief cardiac surgeon, and Dr. Allen Anderson, UCMC's ace
cardiologist, diagnosed me for end-stage congestive heart failure and told me I
needed a heart transplant to live longer than three or four years.
But in the process of examining to make sure I was healthy enough to risk
being given somebody else's precious heart, I was disqualified when they
discovered a cancerous brain tumor on my brain and a cancerous prostate tumor.
During these last 31 months, after God blessed me to be examined and
treated by 97 different doctors at eight different hospitals in three different states,
my brain tumor and prostate cancer have been brought under control, I have been
implanted with a heart pump and I have rallied from being refused admittance to
the national heart transplant list to rising to the very top of it.
Thank you, Jesus!
In the Mayo Clinic's midwest region, that includes Minnesota, Wisconsin
and the Dakotas, NOBODY is ahead of me among B-positive blood types. If a
heart becomes available in a more remote region during this period, then I will be
eligible to receive that heart, too, so long as it is a B-positive blood-type heart.
Each year some 800,000 patients around the world need a heart transplant.
Only 3,500 receive them.
Some 4,000 Americans need a heart transplant each year. Less than 2,000
get them. At Mayo Clinic, 97.7 percent of heart transplant recipients survive at least
one month, 94.85 survive at least one year, 80 percent survive three years and 75
percent survive at least five years.
As I told y'all before, I feel guilty and unworthy knowing somebody has to die
for me to get his or her heart. Then I calm down and think scientific progress. Death
has always been inevitable with us humans. But God has blessed medical science
to acquire the skill to salvage organs from dead donors and transplant them to save
the lives of others.
My wife, Joyce, my family, friends, Sun-Times staff and you readers have
been most comforting and encouraging to me. Thank you. More than 1,000
comments have been submitted to my blog (http://blogs.suntimes.com/banks/),
where I have been keeping you informed of my situation.
Once I am told a heart is available, I must be on the operating table in
Rochester in four hours. Joyce and I already have our bags packed and four
different air ambulances and private charter planes are ready to transport me.
Regardless of the outcome, I will inform you myself.
"Yeah, but how is Lacy Banks going to keep us informed if he is dead?",
well you just relax and let me assure you that while we're all trying to figure it out,
God has already worked it out.
God bless you.