Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Transplant provides hope for NKU student

By Chris Mayhew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEXINGTON — The 21-year-old Northern Kentucky University student who received a heart transplant Sunday is recovering in the hospital's intensive care unit.

        A spokeswoman for University of Kentucky Hospital said Ryan Drake received a heart in a nine-hour surgery that started just after midnight and ended about 9 a.m. Sunday.

        “He is in very critical condition in the intensive care unit,” said Maureen McArthur, a hospital spokeswoman.

        His parents, David L. and Kathy Drake of Independence, were at the hospital during the operation and have not ventured far from their son's bedside since, sleeping only three hours since Saturday night, his father said.

        Ryan Drake is not conscious because he is being kept heavily sedated.

        “It's still touch and go, but there are no signs of any rejection,” Mr. Drake said.

        His son's kidneys are still giving him problems, and he's going to have to be put on dialysis, Mr. Drake said.

        His kidneys were damaged because before he received his new heart some of his organs, including his liver and kidneys, had begun to shut down.

        The family was told about the existence of a donor heart at 11 p.m. Saturday.

        “We were very happy but very scared at the magnitude of the operation,” Mr. Drake said.

        Just before the operation, Ryan Drake was conscious and aware of the fact he would be getting a new heart, his father said, adding that his son was excited, though he could not speak.

        He had to be sedated because of his frail condition.

        “He was very excited, almost too excited,” Mr. Drake said. “He was probably a little nervous and scared, too.”

        Doctors had been worried about the young man's deteriorating condition.

        He was diagnosed several years ago with hypertrophic cardiomy opathy, a thickening of the heart muscle.

        His condition worsened recently, requiring him to be hospitalized in December. That moved him to the top of the transplant list for his region.

        Although he had been connected to a machine to keep him alive, that was only a temporary measure, relatives said.

        He was given three weeks to live without a new heart.

        For information on becoming an organ donor, call LifeCenter at (800) 981-5433 or Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates at (800) 525-3456.


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