Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Brother's Wife...

My brother's wife, Jacki, has been quite ill lately. I asked him to write an explanation of her problems for all the family members to read. His sent me the following:

I wanted to give you a concise explanation of what Jacki faces in the near future with her medical condition. As you know, 2007 was an extremely difficult year for her. It began with a virus in late January or early February. During the winter and early spring, she was repeatedly hospitalized. At one point, she had to be flown by air ambulance to the Mayo Clinic for emergency treatment. While in the hospital, she suffered a fall and had a skull fracture. As the treatment continued, it was determined that she had developed thrombocytopenia, TTP for short. The doctors believed that one cause might be the failing kidney, and they removed it. The TTP continued. At one point, the TTP got so bad, coupled with her high blood pressure, that she had several seizures.

TTP is a blood condition that results in the destruction of the platelets in the blood and dangerous clotting. The next treatment for the TTP was to remove her blood several times a week and completely replace the platelets. Each treatment lasts four hours. This is on top of dialysis three times a week to clean the blood. Throughout most of the summer she had five or six four-hour treatments per week.

When we went back to the Mayo Clinic in September, the kidney transplant unit said that they would not do another transplant until the TTP was in remission for six months. During the fall, she continued the treatments to get the TTP in remission. Unfortunately, when we went for a review in January, they said that all of the treatments were accomplishing nothing and no remission was in sight. The hemotologist at the Mayo Clinic said that only one further plan was possible and that was to remove the spleen. However, there are enormous risks involved. The surgery is relatively simple, but the consequences are dangerous. Removal of the spleen may cause the TTP to run wild. It may cause the blood to clot uncontrollably, with the danger of heart attack or stroke. It may cause the blood not to clot and she could bleed to death. At one point, the doctor said that there was only a 50-50 chance of survival (though later he changed that to 60-40). Even if she survives, there is only a 50-50 chance that it will cause the TTP to go into remission. Because this is the only chance for Jacki to get rid of the TTP and be eligible for a transplant, she has elected to go through with the high-risk surgery. We will travel to the Mayo Clinic next week for surgery on the 31st. Each of our children will fly to Rochester for the surgery. With a little luck and everyone's prayers, we will find success. We will keep everyone updated. Joseph

The picture is one taken at Thanksgiving of Joe and Jacki with their son, their son's little girl, Isabela, and their daughter. Their younger son must have been taking the picture.


  1. We are praying for the whole family! Please tell Uncle Joe if he needs anything to give us a call.

  2. Pat, I will have our family praying as well.
    cathy voight