Glynn Paul Broussard
Heart Transplant - 02/2012
My name is Glynn Paul Broussard. I was born on April 5, 1958, 54 years ago, in Abbeville, Louisiana. After graduating from Maurice High School and since finishing my 1st semester of college at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana at Lafayette), at 18, my life has been a sequence of what I thought was "bad news". However, with faith, prayers from family, friends and acquaintances, along with a positive attitude and the will to live, and great doctors, the "bad news" always turned into "good news and miracles”.
During the 1st week of my 2nd semester at USL, the first bad news came my way. I was diagnosed with stage 3-B Hodgkin's Disease, a type of cancer which had only a 10% chance of being cured. My oncologist recommended treating me with radiation and told me that the worst side effect was a high chance of being sterile. My girlfriend, Joan and I began dating when she was 15 and I was 16. Since we are "Cajun Catholics" and came from large families, even at 18, we had already envisioned how many children we would have and what they would look like. I think we even had names picked out. After dating for 5 years, I married my girlfriend and high school sweetheart when we were 20 and 21, on July 27th, 1979. We were very much in love and did not know how much time we would have together, yet we just celebrated 33 years of marriage.
In 1982, five years after receiving the maximum amount of radiation allowed, I was tested by a urologist and the test proved that I was sterile. My urologist tried to soften the blow by discussing the possibility of adoption with us whenever we were ready to start a family. This was more bad news and we were very disappointed. Our daily prayer was to ask God to not only cure my Hodgkin's Disease, but also to make it possible for us to have children of our own. This was something we wanted more than anything else.
I then received the first of 3 miracles in my life. After just twenty two months of marriage, we were blessed with the birth of our first daughter, Lauren Nicole. Twenty two months later, our son Barrett Andre was born, and thirty months later our youngest daughter, Brittney Leigh became our 3rd miracle. Today our little miricles are 31, 29, & 27 and all leading successful lives, plus I am cured of Hodgkin’s Disease, a fourth miracle.
I lived a normal life, starting a career as a Landman after college. We raised our three miracles, coaching and supporting them in every sport and activity. We enjoyed camping and family vacations and I was exercising several times a week. My career opportunities moved us from Lafayette, LA, to Dallas, then to Houston. Looking back now, it is evident to me that there are no coincidences in life. Even though, these moves seemed disappointing and I doubted the decisions to move, I followed God’s lead. Then at age 41, in 1999, I received bad news again. The radiation that cured me from cancer had calcified my aortic valve and I was in critical need of a replacement. It is in Houston that I had access to the best heart doctors in the world and I realized that God’s plan for me was in His hands.
With the great care of Cardiologist, Dr. Christopher LaVergne and Heart Valve Surgeon Specialist, Dr. David Ott , I received good news again. My valve surgery and triple bypass went well and was successful. I returned to work with a couple of months and worked consistently until March of 2011.
In 2009, while on an Elk hunt in Creede, CO, I developed acute Pulmonary Edema. I was hospitalized with my first sign of what later became diagnosed as Congestive Heart Failure. I want to thank my hunting guide and my one of my dear friends for carrying me five hours up the side of the mountain back to our vehicle. That trip should have taken no more than an hour. Had I been alone (which I could have been), I would still be there.
Dr. LaVergne’s medical care and positive outlook on heart disease helped me survive from 2009 until my heart became very weak and my condition became severely critical. My heart condition gradually worsened with lots of edema (swelling), low oxygen, loss of energy, and loss of weight (45 lbs.). In March of 2011, I was hospitalized with pneumonia and put in a self-induced coma. My wife was told to call in my family because my pneumonia was so critical I may not make it. I was only 53 years old. Then another miracle occurred. I came out of the coma and after over 30 days at St. Luke's Woodlands Hospital, I recovered and went home.
My pneumonia was caused or exacerbated by my congestive heart failure. After additional heart tests, I received more bad news. I needed to have surgery to replace my defective mitral valve. Because of all the scar tissue from my prior surgery and the radiation, Dr. LaVergne recommended I see Critical Care Cardiologist, Dr. Pranav Loyalka. Dr. Loyalka discussed my situation with Dr. Ott, who performed my previous heart surgery. Initially, Dr. Ott did not think I could survive the 2nd heart surgery because my heart was so bad, but ultimately agreed to do it since I had little chance to live much longer without it. Afterwards, Dr. Ott, who has performed thousands of valve heart surgeries, lamented that this was one of the 3 toughest surgeries he had ever done – my heart was hard like a rock. But, I live on for another chance at life.
During the mitral valve open heart surgery on August 2, 2011, the right side of my heart collapsed and did not return to normal as expected. At this point, the only medical possibility for me to live was to have a heart transplant, which to me to say the least was very scary and extremely bad news. After having spent so much time being sick and in the hospital over the last several years, I was disheartened with this information. If I qualified for a heart transplant, I should expect to wait a minimum of six months to one year (maybe even longer) in the hospital before a heart natch might come available. A series of tests was run by St. Luke's to determine if I could even qualify to be a candidate. Little did I know how important this step was in the process. Without this approval I couldn’t even get on the list. Then more good news came. I was a great candidate for a transplant. But the waiting in the hospital seemed timeless. Rebecca Holder, a double lung and heart transplant recipient of 13 years and her husband, Wayne, as well as, Randy Creech, 22 years out, and Tom Griggs, 11 years out, all from The Heart Exchange Group at St. Luke’s Hospital, were visiting me around noon on February 1, 2011 giving me hope and encouragement when I received the call from Dr. Loyalka that a perfect match was available. Although, my wife and I were excited, it was very emotional - we were very disturbed that this good news for me was bad news for someone else and their family. Someone I didn’t even know was about to enter my life, literally and physically to give me another chance. What a unselfish act and choice on the part of my donor and his family! Upon being discharged from St. Luke's, I was told that my new heart came from a 19 year old man.
On September 2nd, 2012, I marked my seventh month anniversary with my new heart and I am now allowed to try and contact the donor’s family. Please pray for me and the family of my donor, that when and if we meet it will be a peaceful experience for everyone, especially the donor family. I would like them to see that their son did not die in vain and that a big part of their son lives on. Because of the unselfish love and forethought of their son and his family, I have been given a second chance at life. I also want them to know that I will always cherish and take care of their son's heart, now my "new heart".
My transplant experience reinforced what I was introduced to at the early age of 18 - how precious and fragile life is, and how important having faith is. I truly appreciate what a gift we all have to give or to receive by being an organ donor. You can’t take your organs with you when you pass on, so I want to encourage others to seriously consider organ donation. Also, as the organ procurement agency, "Lifegift" told us at a recent visit, do not assume that you are ever “too old" or "too sick" to be a donor. that is nothing but a myth.
I would like to leave you with my recipe for a successful heart transplant procedure. It starts with faith and the grace of God; the unconditional love of a donor and their family; the unconditional love and support of family and friends; the skill, care and trust of the best doctors and hospitals; lots of patience; a positive attitude and a will and reason to live. I had all of these ingredients even at times when I sometimes may not even have realized it. I specfically want to give heartfelt thanks and gratitude to my wife, Joan and to my dad, Presley, for their untiring support and care, without which there is no way I would have made it inspire of having all the other ingredients. I have had a remarkable recovery, am doing very well and am confident I will have many years of good health and blessings with my family. I feel better today, after only 7 months, than I have since 2009 on the side of that mountain in Colorado. Through my faith, I have realized there are no coincidences in life. Let me close with what I think is the best good news of all. I am more convinced now that ALL things in life are possible with God, as illustrated in the famous prayer, "Footprints in the Sand". In my words, "I know that during my life when nothing seemed possible and I dreamed I was walking alone, it was then that I was being carried my Lord”.
...Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. I hope you find it both inspiring and a dose of reality. It was not a cake walk, but as good as i feel now, I would do it all again if I had too. It inspires be to be able to give back and let others know that sometimes "bad things" happen to "good people”, but with faith, love and support, nothing is impossible to overcome. In September my wif and I began volunteering with other members of the Heart Exchange Support Group by visiting other transplant patients and their families to offer them my support, encouragement and prayers. The smiles and hope we bring patients are priceless, and is the best personal gift God has ever given Joan and I.