Friday, August 5, 2011

First Real Outing

In less than one month, Dick, Richard, Robert and I were touring the downtown sculpture walk and having dinner at an outside restaurant while listen to our son Johns' Jazz Trio.  Dick's endurance is remarkable. Looking and feeling better every day.

His doctor said no one could believe how quickly he has recovered.  We still have to return to Minneapolis once a week for testing and blood work, but so far so good!

Friday, July 29, 2011


You haven't heard from me for a few days, because I have been running around getting things ready for Dick's homecoming.  This past Tuesday both Dick and I were planing on his release from Fairview Hospital but we were truly unprepared to be given permission to move back to Sioux Falls.  Dick has to go back to Minneapolis for blood work and a heart biopsy once a week for two more weeks, but then the schedule changes and his routine checks will be twice a month and then once a month for a year.  Needless to say, neither Dick nor I could really wrap our minds around all this.  Eleven days from "the call" to the day he was being released from the hospital is nothing short of a miracle!  Thirteen days after this whole thing began we are moving back into our home!  Wow....  on the discharge papers, the comment by his doctor about his recovery said, "remarkable."
Dick is really doing well, obviously he must still take it easy and avoid crowds so he doesn't have any set backs, but he plans on attending the County Commission meeting Tuesday morning via Skype or something similar...  the wonders of modern technology.  Slowly but surely he will get back to a normal routine.
Please forward any cards directly to our home.
2409 S. Third
Sioux Falls, SD  57105

Again, thank you all for all your prayers, they truly have made all the difference!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The First Day

Today Dick got all the drain tubes and wires pulled.  He is FREE!  He has been tethered for almost a year; tied to either batteries or electricity, with machines keeping him alive.  For years he has had a pacemaker/defibrillator and last year doctors added the LVAD.
Not any more.....   He is being sustained by his healthy heart that shows no signs of rejection. Doctors are sending him to the apartment tomorrow, Tuesday.

It is a great day!  It is the first day of the rest of his life.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A New Day

Dick is heart #739
Thursday night, when leaving the hospital, I noticed how much like Autumn it felt.  The heat has been awful lately, yet Thursday evening  was absolutely beautiful.  The walk to the apartment invited my thoughts to wonder...  Could the heat of our lives really be over?  Could this really be the beginning of a new season?
After packing and driving back to Minneapolis Thursday afternoon I had gone right to the hospital where I found Dick once again sitting in a chair.  He had a new sparkle.  He has NO pain.  He was counting  his carbohydrates; this alone is amazing, I have never known him to be conscious of calories or carbohydrates , in fact I don't know if he has ever even considered them.  Right now they have him in a induced diabetic state. This is caused by all the anti rejection drugs, hopefully as they wean him of off the prednisone, the diabetes should disappear; thus the reason for counting carbs.

If my eyes were not seeing this transformation, I wouldn't believe it.   Doctors give me the full assurance that Dick will be back on his bike soon, shaving with a razor, taking showers, taking walks, walking the dogs, helping me in the garden....  all things he use to do.  He just has to be careful when in crowds; I guess infections like colds and flu will always be a concern.

Transplant patients, the teacher of the class is on the far right 
He had a transplant class today.  There was a gal who had a kidney transplant, a man who had had a kidney/pancreas transplant,  a man who had had a liver transplant, and a gal who had had a kidney transplant seventeen years ago who had just received another one, and last but not least Dick who was the only heart transplant.  All the transplants recipiants in this class had just had their transplants since Saturday.

The pretty on is Dick's doctor, she couldn't be more pleased
 Could this all behind us, oh how I pray so.   I wonder how many people actually are given a second chance? I just found out that his sister Cindy is coming to Sioux Falls in September.  She too has been given a second chance;  -  another one of God's healings.

Although, Dick's main doctor is Dr. Mazri, Dr. Cindy Martin has been taking care of him during his stay.  She is one of the cardiologists.  Dr.  ......  is a fellow who works with her.

Dick and his nurse Brant,...  Dick looks good doesn't he!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Post Transplant

The heart is just a muscle, a large pump.  Dick's old heart was the size of a basketball, the new heart is the size of his fist.  I was thinking about that this morning; it amazes me to see how strong the body is with a healthy heart and how quickly it can rejuvenate with good blood flow!

All day Tuesday I was packing, washing and working;  preparing for living elsewhere takes some doing.  I also had a project (work work) I needed to take care of before I leave, including bills to pay and follow up with the seamstress and contractor.
There will always be someone in our home taking care of the dogs and looking after my garden and plants, and taking care of the general household needs, so if I have forgotten anything, it can either be picked up when I come home next time or brought up with one of the kids when they come to visit.  I don't know if Dick will be able to come home with me when I come.....  I guess we will find out.
Our address in Minneapolis is written below so if you want to send Dick a card please do, I know it means a lot to him.  Email is always good, IF I can hook it up all the cables.   I will not have my computer whizz son to do that for me this time so I may be down a few days.  Son Robert does come in next Wednesday from California, it will be so good to see him again!  Last time he was home was during Dick's LVAD surgery.  I know he wants to spend some time with my mother so we will be coming home for a few days for sure.
Today is Dick's first transplant support group since his transplant.  He is #739, which means that since the first transplant at Fairview Hospital, there have been 738 before him and he now is the  739th recipient; this number includes children and adults.
I had better continue packing the car or I'll never get out of here.

PS.  Oh, Dick took his first walk yesterday.  I'll send you some pictures next blog

Apartment Address:

Argyle Apartments
920 Delaware Street SE,
Apartment 2029
Minneapolis, Minnesota  55414

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Moving Day

This morning Dede and I arrive at the hospital to find Dick in good spirits.  It is moving day for Dick....  out of ICU and up to a regular floor.  The doctors continue to be delighted with Dick's progress and are thinking of releasing him from the hospital next week to go to our apartment. John, Michael and Richard drove up to visit Dick and arrived around noon.  They too were shocked to see how well he was doing.  People expect to see one thing but see something completely different.  I'm getting my husband back and the kids are getting their dad back.
John and I left for Sioux Falls.  I need to pack some things to take back to the apartment; clothes and such. Thursday I will move into the apartment and begin my stay. It is good to be home again to get some rest before they release him into my full time care. My mother is not doing really well, so I'm sure I will be back and forth often.

It is important for Dick to stay in Minneapolis for a total of four weeks after transplant to ensure that neither rejection nor infection set in.  Once the new heart accepts the new body, exams can tapper off, but at first, doctors are very cautious of everything. So 7 - 8 days in the hospital and three weeks in the apartment.  With the way things are going, we may be able to return earlier.  Remarkable!  We are so blessed to have our large family; everyone is willing to help any way they can. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday, July 18th

Today, Dick was sitting up and eating lunch, with his glasses on and talking.  It is truly remarkable, how quickly he is recovering.  We have had a great day.... the family is really tired and brain dead but I believe all our friends and family understand how stressful something like this is, but Dick is doing great.  We left him tonight planning on watching the Twins Game and Hawaii 5O.  This is approx. 18 hours after surgery;  he still has some pain from the surgery but is recovering amazingly well. Today they were able to remove the arterial catheters and many of the other tubes. Tomorrow they plan on moving him out of ICU into a normal room upstairs.
He will be in Minneapolis for the next four weeks.  Approximately two weeks in the hospital and two weeks in our apartment.  It is important for him to be seen and be checked for the possibility of rejection, as that chance is greater during this initial time.  We continue to need your prayers.  All cards can be sent to:

Richard Kelly
Fairview Medical Center
516 Delaware Street SE
Minneapolis, Mn  55455

Please no flowers, as he cannot chance any infections during this critical time of his recovery.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


 One of the heart transplant recipients  wrote me a note, I want to share with you what he said,   "He is on the way to his second chance. All of us transplants feel very blessed to have received the ultimate gift."

Think about it.  
My friend Susan prayed that God's answers to all the prayers would be really obvious.  I just told Dede, "look at how loud God is shouting."  When I look at Dick and see how smoothly he went through surgery, how smoothly he is going through recovery,the perfect donor's young healthy heart, and how his body is accepting it as its' own,  there is no other conclusion!  Not only has God heard all the prayers, but He is answering each and every one of them.  Your voice has mattered, and Dick is the LIVING PROOF.  Now Dick still has a way to go, but I am believing that he has nothing short of a divine 
How I look at the transplant recipient's quote is that "a second chance to live" is the ultimate gift.  

A special surprise, this afternoon Dick was alert, talking and off the breathing tube.  Allen and Denise Kjesbo were in town and came by to offer their love, support and prayers.


Dick has heart number 739;  after eleven hour in surgery, his heart is in and is beating beautifully! It has been a very full 24 hours!  Everyone attending Dick has and is absolutely great, Dr. John even gave me his card so I could call him if I had any questions.  What a wonderful doctor.

Dede and I are still at the hospital. We are going to leave for the hotel in about 5.1/2 hours.  Hopefully Sunday will be a quiet, uneventful day  - the Kelly family needs a little down time.

  • ADDED  6:00 AM Sunday Morning:  So far there have been no signs of rejection, things still are going extremely well.  Blood pressure is holding its own and is stable.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Perfect Timing

Almost twelve hours after we got the call, they wheeled my dear husband into surgery. Everything exploded at 1:45 PM. Dr John, one of the surgeons, came in to brief Dick and I on what would be happening.  The anaesthesiologists came to give us their information, the delivery wheel chair arrived, the final signing of the papers were signed, etc. etc., then the long walk down the hall, to the elevator and the saying goodbye.  Instead of taking him to pre-op, they took him right into the OR.  To the best of my memory this is what Dr John said would be the general timing of all this:
2:00 take him down and put him to sleep.  There are many tubes, lines, and a full body scrub that must go be done before they begin; praise God Dick will not have to feel a thing. AT THIS POINT - If for any reason the donor's heart is not suitable, everything will come to a halt.

3:00 Dr. John and Dr. Shumway will begin to open him.  They will have to disconnect the LVAD and clean out old scarring that has occurred from the prior surgery.  There will be quite a bit of bleeding when they remove the LVAD which is of great concern to me.  Please pray bleeding will not be an issue.
Also at 3:00 another Dr. will be harvesting the donor's heart, where ever that dear person is, and  will transfer it back to Fairview.  This will take approx 2 hours. Timing is everything!

5:00 PM - I pray at 5:00 Dick will have been successfully opened, the LVAD removed, the bi-pass machine hooked up and the old heart removed.  When the new heart arrives, I pray the doctors are ready and waiting.
God only knows how long it will take to put in the new heart, but in an ideal world, prayerfully by 7:00ish  doctors will be finished and will be ready to close.  This takes another two or more hours.
Dr John said that if all goes well, Dick should be out of surgery by 10:00 PM.

Dede is on her way up right now and Jonathan is coming tomorrow.  It's Saturday and the waiting room is virtually empty, but even though it appears I'm all alone, I not really alone. Jesus told me along time ago, that He would never leave me nor forsake me and I am confident that He who is faithful has and will work all this for good. Both Dick and I are under His wonderful arms of protection and are blessed beyond measure.
I will keep you posted.

Saturday's Progress Report

They just took him down to xray.  Things are starting to happen; Dr .....  who will be harvesting the donor's heart said he will be leaving around noon; upon his examination and approval of the heart, Dick will go into pre-op.  It looks like he will be having the surgery early afternoon.  Dr.... said tonight around 9 or 10, he should be finished.  The first six hours after transplant are the most critical; rejection of the new heart or bleeding may occur where Dick may have to return to surgery.  This is not abnormal.  I'm glad they prepared me for this possibility.
Once Dick is sedated, he will be kept in a comatose state for about day.  The amazing news is that, if he can get up and start walking around and if everything looks good, he may be able to leave the hospital and go home in about 7 to 10 days.  Home as meaning Sioux Falls  yeh*#*#*#*!!!!!  This would be nothing short of a miracle!  I was so dreading living in Minneapolis for another six weeks.  We have to do what we have to do, but it would be such a blessing to do his recovery rehab in Sioux Falls.

I will be actually living at the hospital until Sunday around noon if all goes well, then I'll check into a motel until we know exactly what our future holds.  I'm not getting the apartment because I'm hoping it will not be needed.

Dick's spirits are good and he is looking forward to getting back to a NORMAL life style.  He wants to thank everyone for their support, concerns and prayers.

Saturday, July 16th "The Call"

This morning at 2:30 AM Dick got the call we have all been waiting and praying for.
THEY HAD A HEART for Dick! We were flown to Minneapolis where we were transported immediately to the hospital.  The transplant surgery may be sometime after 9:00 AM this morning; it is almost 7 AM and at this point I don't know if the donated heart has arrived.  The nurse just told me that the surgery could take anywhere from six to sixteen hours. Dick is really sleepy and very ready but I, on the other hand, am a little in shock, I'm sure reality will set in soon. I will keep you posted as things progress. It will be a very long day, so once again I call upon you all to pray for Dick.
Most grateful,

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Back on the List

Dick is back on the 1A list!  The 1A list is the highest position, the top of the list.  People on this list are the first ones who receive hearts; his chances now are very high to receive a heart soon.  It could have been fatal for Dick had he not been approved.  The heart valve that is leaking is usually operated on, but in Dick's case that is not anything doctors will do.  The right ventricle failure could be temporarily corrected with another Vad (heart pump) implanted into his right ventricle, but Dick will not undergo that major surgery again, so the only option we have is to get the heart.
Please keep him in your prayers.  I'll let you know.....

Monday, June 13, 2011

Prayerfully Back on the 1A List

The other day, I wrote these words to one of our nearest and dearest friends, "I pray for a heart, but unfortunately I can't go get one for him; I pray for strength for him, but he still is exhausted...  his anxiety gets so high at times, yet there is nothing I can do or say to lessen it.  Try as I will, I'm in a place where all I can do is wait upon God, rest in him and trust that He is working out things for the good." 
Today is Monday the 13th of June and Dick and Richard, our son,  left at 5:00 AM this morning for Minneapolis to see Dick's cardiologist.  Around noon I received a call from Richard telling me that they had arrived safely and that Dr. Masri, Dick's cardiologist, is going before the board tomorrow recommending that Dick be placed back on the 1A list. The reason why he is so exhausted is because his left ventricle is leaking and his right ventricle is failing; with the failed left ventricle running only by the heart pump and the right one quickly failing, it is time for the transplant team to get serious about finding Dick a new heart.  At this point I doubt if they would give him a right vad so the prayer request is for the perfect heart to come quickly.  Like I said to our friend, I can't get him one, only God can provide one for him.  The strength and peace Dick needs will come back again only though God's grace.
Thank you for your prayer support.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Little Bundle of Joy

In the midst of our sadness after losing our Scout, Saturday, Richard, Dick and I went to the breeder in Madison SD and found our new little girl, Lillie Ree.  I have always said, there is no way to grieve around babies or puppies.  We have Eva 21 months, Anna 3 months and now Lillie 11 weeks, the time for grieving is growing dim.  The bible tell us to think on the things which are good.  During this waiting time, we are trying to think on all the good in our lives.  Wonderful family, wonderful friends, wonderful home, wonderful new patio, and our wonderful new puppy. Truly, Dick and I agree, what else could we possible want?  God is so good!

Friday, May 27, 2011


I was thinking about time and how the days have grown into months and still there has been no call.  Life has not been without its challenges during this season.

In February we welcomed another baby girl, Anna Jean, into the Kelly family.  John and Ashley have two beautiful girls!  There were some problems during labor and delivery, but mom and baby are just fine.

Dick developed what is know as a plural effusion, which is sack of water inside his chest, which gives him quite a bit of pain.  He has medicine which helps; just another hurdle.

In March, Dick celebrated his 70th birthday and mostly all the kids were able to come to SF and surprise him.  We have such a wonderful family; lots of support and lots of love.  It still amazes me how this large blended family is so united! There is such a wonderful sense of family love.

Dick has changed with the season change.  Winter was long and slow in coming but with the spring there has been a resurgence of his spirit.  In April Dick had cataract surgery on both of his eyes.  I'm thankful that he went ahead and took care of them because his vision was quite impaired and now he is finally able to see clearly.  John and Richard transformed our back patio, which was quite a project but both Dick and I love the yard and it was such a blessing!  It is wonderful to finally be outside again; to be able to see all our beautiful birds and plants again.  It speaks to me about the faithfulness of God and how He does restore.

Jackson, Richard's Boston Terrier, has done a brilliant job in ridding our backyard of rabbits,  Praise God.  All the little plants planted so far are actually growing without threat!
We have given him a new name....... KILLER

On May 26th  we lost our precious four year old Springer Spaniel, Scout.  She had developed lymphoma a few months ago and had been on chemo therapy.   Glaucoma, possible caused by a tumor behind her eye, put untreatable pressure on both eyes.  Finally the combination of all these horrible things attacking  our wonderful little Scout finally took its tole.   Last October our older dog died and now in May our puppy... it just doesnt' seem right...
Dolly and Scout
Much time has passed but we still need your prayers.  Life goes on and waiting gets soooo old.   You all have been so faithful and Dick and I so appreciate your continued love and support.  Oh, how we need it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Better Late Than Never

It has been two weeks since Dick had his Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator replaced.  In the last blog, I made the mistake of calling it a battery, but as you can see, it is more than a battery!  The doctor was very pleased how things went.  He did not have to shock Dick which might have caused another stroke; he didn't feel it was worth the risk -  Praise God!
Dick had a few days where he really didn't feel well, however that was to be expected after surgery. If you think about it, cutting into a chest cavity, removing scar tissue, removing a devise lodged into his internal tissue and replacing the empty space with a new foreign object would take a healthy person time to recover, and when you think of all Dick has been through, I'm surprised he bounced back as quickly as he did.

Since we have returned from Minneapolis, our son and wife have had their second little girl - Anna Jeanne, our oldest grandson Andrew tragically lost his dad, and our wonderful three year old Springer Spaniel Scout, has had to start chemo therapy due to a cancerous tumor removed from her neck February 8th.  All in all, February was a mentally exhausting month and I'm glad it is over!

Tonight Dick and I went to a movie and out for dinner.  If felt so special!  It was a night like the ones we used to have, a delightful date night.  Funny how we take for granted little things like that; life can change so quickly.  We are so blessed to snatch an evening out every once in a while and it is a true blessing that we love our home and love being together.  Praise God for a wonderful husband and a great marriage ... gifts from God.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pacer Recharged

Winter has seemed long and cold.  Waiting for "The Phone Call" is like waiting for water to boil, which makes winter seem longer than usual.  We drove to Minneapolis this morning for a routine heart/LVAD checkup scheduled today and for a surgical procedure tomorrow.  We had hoped Dick's pacemaker/defibrillator would not have to be replace, but because the phone has not yet rung, his pacemaker's  battery is running out and must be replaced.  Thursday morning @ 8:00 AM,  Dick will have same-day surgery to remove the old pacemaker and install a new one.  It shouldn't be a difficult procedure because all the devise's connectors were fished into the heart years ago during the original surgery.    Hopefully we will return Thursday evening and next week he will be back to work.
Your thought and prayers continue to support us in ways you can't imagine.  Thank you, we are truly blessed.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Still Waiting

People are asking me, what happens now.....  We Wait.  But while we wait, life is normalizing.  Slowly but surely piles are be sorted, lists are shrinking and tasks are being checked off.  You  can't imagine how long it takes to catch up after being gone off and on for almost three months, then down time due to illness.  Dick is back into his routine; the county commission is perfect for him.  He loves it and is so good at it; in fact, he is vice-chair this year.  But when 5:00 rolls around, he is done, both of us are grateful to have early evening.
One of these days, we will get a phone call from Fairview telling us that they have a heart.  When that happens, we will get on a plane and fly to Minneapolis.  Once we are they, doctors will prep Dick for surgery and a final decision will be made as to the match, and if everything lines us, Dick will get a new heart.
Dick tending his roses the summer of 2003
I really think both Dick and I needed this extra time to heal.  It is really nice to get up in the morning, kiss Dick goodbye and welcome him back home at the end of his day.  He is able to take cat-naps and go to bed early at night.  It will be wonderful for him to have his new heart and be able to add a few more things to his minimal schedule.  He loves to help me in the garden....  it will be wonderful to see him tend his roses, bar-b-queing a family dinner, taking Scout for a walk to the park or doing any of these "normal" life opportunities.   You don't know how precious little things are until you can't do them....

Monday, January 3, 2011

No Call

It is early in the AM on the third of January and to tell you the truth, I have been kind of down in the dumps; we wait and wait for the phone to ring but there is no call.   Dick has his first place position only until January 5th, then will drop down to the normal waiting list where he will wait his turn, which could mean months or possibly years.
His pace maker is wearing out and he has till March to get that changed.  Changing the unit will involve surgery, so if a heart could become available he will need neither the pacemaker nor the surgery, which would be a really good thing!
This is almost surreal;  a heart should come sometime. but. not knowing makes me feel as if it is not going to happen.  I know Dick thinks about it a lot too but there is absolutely nothing we can do about it except Trust God.
Looking back over 2010, it is obvious to both Dick and I the enormous amount of grace we has received this year,     Dick's heart failure, stroke, shingles and my back surgery and health issues .....  it is amazing that we have survived it all!  I look forward to the day when we can have all this behind us; please pray with me that this will be soon.

Love to each of you in this new year, Mary