Chris's Recovery Journey

 This page is dedicated to my son in law, Chris's recovery journey from his double lung transplant he received on January 30, 2018.

 

Chris posted the following on his facebook page today, July 30, 2018.

"Exactly 6 months ago, some stranger gave me the gift of life. I will forever be in debt to that person for the gift they gave me and my family. #organdonation #doublelungtransplant"

 

 

 

The following is an update on Chris's recovery from a double lung transplant  in photos;

Ten years ago, just two weeks after the birth of his first son, Chris was diagnosis with Pulmonary Hypertension, a genetic disease of the lungs that affects the heart and that took the life of his mother a couple months after he was born.  Doctors told him because of the strong medicines they put him on,  he would never be able to have more children, yet 18 months after his diagnosis, Cason was born!  And just a mere 2 years before his lung transplant, Caroline was born, much to our delight since by this time Chris's disease was rapidly progressing.  By December 2017 & January 2018 Chris was very sick and in ICU.  He was in need of a double lung transplant to survive and was on a waiting list.  On January 29th, the day after we all celebrated Caroline's 2nd birthday, doctors were planning to put Chris on ECOMO (life support), basically to keep him alive until they were able to procure a pair of lungs that were a match. The doctors had told us that in order to put him on ECOMO, they would have to put him "to sleep", (you cannot be conscious when on life support),  and did not know how long it would take for them to find lungs, he could be on ECOMO for months ......... worst he may never wake up from it.  So we were saying our goodbyes on January 28th (lower right photo), but on the 29th of January we got the good news!  They had the lungs and it was a match!

Chris's transplant surgery was on January 30, 2018,  it was a 12 hour surgery. Doctors said that when they opened him up,  he was so bad they did not know how he ever was alive!  It took almost 2 weeks before Chris regained consciousness.  February of 2018 began his recovery. 

By mid March Chris was getting stronger and transferred to a rehab facility where he got physical therapy,  etc.   In April, spring break,  Brandi took the children to visit him at the rehab facility.  By mid April Chris was released to stay with his parents in a hotel near the hospital for daily check ups.  By the end of April,  he was released to go home,  but still has to travel once a week for weekly check ups at the transplant hospital.

 

Although Chris is home now,  he still has to make weekly trips to INOVA hospital for checkups. But he is feeling great and really enjoying his life. Because he will be on anti rejection drugs for the rest of his life,  he can no longer be in the work place as his immune system is very compromise and he could pick up viruses, etc, easily and get sick and possibly die.  So he is on full disability.  Brandi works now and Chris is enjoying his new role as Daddy Mom.   

What a blessing and joy it is to be able to hold the ones you love in yours arms again!!b

 

 

2018 Newsletter - April Update

Dear Friends,  It is with a very joyful heart that I bring you good news concerning my son in law's double lung transplant.  As of Thursday 4/5 he is out of the hospital both iNova and the rehab hospital and on the last leg of his healing journey.  For the next 6 weeks he will be living near iNova hospital for weekly check ups, cat scans, blood work,  etc,  and therapy.  He is checked into a hotel where his parents will be staying with him, helping to care for him and take him to his doctor appts.  My daughter and grandchildren will be visiting him on the weekends.  We are hoping he will be able to come home by Memorial Day and we will have a big celebration!!!  Chris still has a ways to go,  he is learning to walk all over again and has to re gain weight and strength,  he went from 189 lbs to 112 lbs after surgery,  but we are confident he will have a complete recovery.

The below image was taken 2 weeks ago at the rehab hospital.

The below image was taken yesterday upon leaving the hospital. 

Thank you everyone for your prayers and well wishes.  My husband and I are taking a well needed 3 week vacation towards the end of the month and when I come back I will start making dolls again.  I hope to have one or two dolls up on this website by the end of June. 

 

 

 

2018 Newsletter

 

Dear Friends, 

 

I had several dolls planned for this year which I was eager to start working on, they included Brus in several sizes, jumeaus, lady dolls and a trunk doll. But unfortunately at this time everything will be "on hold" for the next few months. 

The reason is because we have a very sick family member, (our son in law, Chris), who took a turn for the worst over the Christmas holidays and was in the ICU unit of Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk for almost 3 weeks and is now in the ICU unit at iNova hospital in Fairfax, VA where he has been for a month and a half after receiving a double lung transplant. He is on a long road to recovery and rehabilitation.  My daughter, Brandi, his wife has been at his side throughout this nightmare ordeal, the hospital is 3 hours away from her home, longer when traffic is bad which it is usually as Fairfax is in the DC area.  She can not easily come home every day so she has been staying in Fairfax.  However, since they have 3 children, 2 sons ages 9 and 10 and a daughter, age 2,  someone needs to be there full time to care for them and that someone is their grandma,  me!  So since December 21 when Chris first went into the hospital until now,  i have been living at their house taking care of the children, helping my daughter and have been home only a handful of times.  Obiviously,  since I am not home and taking care of children 24/7,  I have had to put doll making on hold temporarily, but hope to resume once Chris has recovered and my daughter no longer needs my help. 

 

Brandi and Chris's Family

Their Story:  Chris and Brandi have been married 15 years,  Chris works in the Norfolk, Va school systems originally as an art teacher but more recently teaching computer technology to teachers.  Brandi works as a OR xray tech at De Paul Hospital and also owns her own photography business. Two weeks after their oldest son, Coleton, was born Chris was diagnosis with Pulmonary Hypertension.  His mother died of this same disease when he was born.  There are several forms of this disease,  his is a genetic mutation of the lungs.  For years Chris has been dealing with this sinister disease and has endured many hospital stays, procedures, medicines with terrible side effects and physical limitations. 

 

Chris's health started to decline over the past few years and then over the Christmas holidays it took a turn for the worst and he spent two and a half weeks at the Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk and missed Christmas with his children.  He was home for only a few days and then was admitted into the iNova Hospital in Fairfax, Va for a double lung transplant.  This is where the miraculous begins because usually when you need a organ transplant you are on a list for a very long time.  Chris got his new lung on January 30, 2018.  Now all that is left is recovery which is going to be a very long journey with baby steps forward and set backs every now and then.  You can follow their journey on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mary.l.benner

Chris and family at iNova Hospital the day before his lung transplant.

Chris has many more months of recovery, healing and rehabilitation to go through and we thank everyone who has been praying and helping their family through this crisis.  Because of his condition he is no longer able to work and is on disability. Brandi had to take a no pay leave from her job at De Paul Hospital and cannot work at her photography business at this present time.  They do have health insurance, but they will have deductibles, etc,  and their medical bills are going to be huge.  When Chris finally is released from the hospital,  he will have to stay in the Fairfax area for approximately 3 months for follow ups and rehabilitation.  That means that along with their house payment, they are also going to have to rent an apartment close to the hospital.  A fund has been set up for them by some of their friends to help with some of these cost. http://hunsickerfamily.recoveryregistries.com

Most of all we want to thank everyone for their prayers.  People all over this country as well as around the world have been praying for Chris,  people we do not even know.  It has been such a blessing to us and we truly feel that God has worked miracles from the prayers that have been prayed on his behalf.  One the of the most amazing miracles was how fast his got his new lungs because people usually are on the organ waiting list for a long time.  When Chris went to iNova January 11th, it was to be evaluated to see if he would qualify for a lung transplant and if he made the list what position would he be in.  By the time he got to iNova,  his condition had become very serious and on Sunday, Jan. 28th, (his daughter's 2nd birthday), we all made a trip to the hospital to see him because they were going to put him on something called a ecmo machine that does the work of his heart and lungs for him.  However, it is a risky procedure and he would have to be sedated and unconscious until he had the lung transplant which could be months.  But much to everyone's amazement, the next day,  before they put him on the ecmo machine,  at 4 am doctors got word that they had a lung and it was a match!!!  Chris went into surgery the next day at 12 pm for a 12 hour surgery.  The surgeon told Brandi that when she opened him up she was shocked how bad he was,  she told her, "I don't know how he was even living."  We thank the Lord every day for all the miraculous moments we have experienced.  The Lord is truly watching over our entire family and meeting our needs and helping us through this crisis. 

So thank you, thank you for all your prayers, kind words and giving.  It means so much to us.  We thank God and ask him to bless everyone who has been so kind to our family through this ordeal.