Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recellularized human hearts may be weeks away

via next big future

These headlines blow my mind. I have a relative by marriage who was born on the same day and year as me. She calls me her birthday buddy. She recently had a stroke, something that concerns us greatly. Without warning her speech slurred, and then she couldn't speak at all. Of course her husband rushed her to the hospital. They asked for no visitors, which is why we haven't seen them yet. They are communicating via email.

Db. here...with input from D. and a very sleepy T.  
So, T. had the trans esophageal echo test and we now know more and have a plan.  The "hole" in her heart is a really tiny tunnel between two flaps of tissue in the septum which is typical for heart holes of this type.  It not a continuously open passage which makes it hard to measure.  T.'s hole is especially efficient in transmitting the test "bubbles" (or worse, a blood clot) from where they should be to where they shouldn't be.  This means that the hole may have been the cause of the stroke.  Most holes pass 0-10 bubbles per beat at rest, but T.s transfers 20-30 bubbles.  When the muscles are tightened and the pressure between the sides of the septum is changed, she passes more bubbles than can be counted.  (She has always been an overachiever!)  They "grade" these holes on a scale of 1-5. When a person has had a stoke,  a "1" is low risk and they do nothing.   A "5" is high risk and they close the hole.  T.s is borderline...  3 (maybe close the hole) to 4 (probably close the hole).   Dr. K. has seen worse, but hers is severe.  So... in his opinion, the hole MAY have caused the stroke.  Again, we will never definitively know the cause of her stroke, so the docs are looking for the most likely cause....
She more recently sent us an email in her  own "don't worry about me, I'll be fine" style that tells us, if nothing else, her spirit is intact, and her strength is not diminished. The medical advances in the last ten years have changed everything. I have no doubt that a decade ago, this would be something near impossible to recover from. Reading up on this, her speech should fully return as her brain learns to rout around the damage from the stroke. She has periods where she can talk perfectly normally, then her brain routes into her damaged section again. Those periods are already becoming fewer. A very good sign.

On the medical advances, to quote the blogfather, Glenn Reynolds... "Faster please".