Monday, January 14, 2019

Best Things in Life Worth the Wait

UMMC issued the following press release.

You could say 2018 was a year of medical firsts for Kimberly Cooley: Her first set of stitches. Her first trip to an emergency room.

Her first ambulance ride. Her first overnight in a hospital. “I’m usually a one-time-a-year sinus infection girl,” she explains.

Oh, and her first organ transplant, a liver to replace her scarred, diseased one, allowing her to hold fast to her nieces, nephews and other family who live within a 12-mile radius of her Duck Hill home.

“I want to embrace life. There’s a story to tell,” said Cooley, 37, an independent public relations advisor with clients in New York and Connecticut. “All of this amazing care happened in Mississippi.”

That would be at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where she received her transplant Dec. 8, and at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Grenada, where Dr. Timothy Ragland was the first to pinpoint why her liver was going south.

Cooley’s first inkling was in December 2017. She had recently moved to Georgia. “I noticed I’d gained weight, but as women do, I chalked it up to bloating and too many Applebee’s nights.”

She went from handling three flights of stairs with ease to having trouble walking six feet. The morning of March 6, 2018, “I took a long stare in the mirror and noticed how extended my belly was.”

She went a local emergency department, where she was told the bloating was the result of a severe fluid buildup in her abdomen associated with cirrhosis, a late stage of scarring of the liver that can be caused by a number of diseases and conditions.

Because her insurance hadn’t yet transferred, “I booked it to Mississippi,” Cooley said. “The timing was critical.”

Someone suggested she see Ragland, an assistant professor of radiology. “They basically saved my life,” Cooley said of Ragland and his team. “He was the first doctor to tell me anything about my condition (autoimmune hepatitis) with confidence.”

He sent her to Dr. Mildred Ridgway, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, to rule out ovarian cancer. They did; Ridgway connected Cooley with Dr. Mark Earl, associate professor of transplant surgery, and his abdominal team. “It was like a real-life episode of House,” Cooley said. “They figured it out.”

The constant buildup of fluid made her weight balloon to 340 pounds; her lanky frame normally supports about 220 pounds. Dr. Thomas Amankonah, associate professor of digestive diseases, joined her care team, and through a combination of diuretics and a sodium-free diet, she lost more than 120 pounds of fluid.

Amankonah “got her so ready” for the transplant to come, said Dr. Felicitas Koller, assistant professor of transplant surgery, who with Earl performed the procedure. “She came to surgery very well cared for. This was a team effort.”

But before her transplant, a new life-threatening condition one-upped her liver failure. “I had some bad tilapia,” Cooley joked. She went to the Emergency Department at UMMC Grenada, then was transferred via ambulance to Jackson. “I was here with sepsis for a week and a half,” she remembered.

That was August; she couldn’t hope for a transplant until sepsis, an illness caused by the body’s response to an infection, had fully cleared her system. Finally, on Oct. 31, she went on the waiting list. Her transplant coordinator, registered nurse Anna McGraw, kept up with her care. “She’s my little firecracker,” Cooley said.

Cooley prepared her home: hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere. Spotless bathrooms. On. Nov. 25, she got the call from her transplant team with the offer of a liver, and she headed to Jackson.

When a donor is identified for a patient waitlisted at UMMC, the hospital contacts the patient and the patient can accept or decline the organ. A surgeon from the transplant team personally removes the organ from the donor, whether they’re already at UMMC or somewhere else, and brings it to the OR.

“I was locked and loaded,” Cooley said. “But when the liver arrived, Dr. (Christopher) Anderson wanted something better.

“I wasn’t disappointed,” she said. “I was grateful for his wisdom and ability to say no. I knew a better liver would come.” Anderson is professor and chair of the Department of Surgery and chief of the Division of Abdominal and Hepatobiliary Surgery.

Even though an initial assessment of a potential donor organ might look good, “we take an aggressive stance,” Earl said. “We evaluate the donor and organ based on lab work and circumstances around the donor’s death, and based on that, we make a decision on whether the organ is likely to be suitable. Once we do that, we call the recipient into the hospital.”

But things can change. Surgeons might find that an organ that looked good on paper is not, or an organ that looked marginal on paper is actually excellent.

“If we make the determination that it’s unsuitable, we call it off. Most recipients are disappointed, because they’re excited about the opportunity to move beyond organ failure,” Earl said. “I’ve never spoken to a recipient who wasn’t thankful that we were making decisions to keep them healthy.”

Such was the case with Cooley’s second offer, made via a phone call from Earl. “He said they had a liver that had just come in. A young person. Drug overdose,” she said. “He wanted to have that conversation.”

She declined the organ. They both felt good about the decision.

“Through all of this, I never stopped. I didn’t succumb. I knew what I had to do,” Cooley said.

When the third offer came, at 6:19 a.m. that Saturday, Cooley was on go. In fact, after she returned home following her first organ offer, “I purged a lot from my packed bag before putting it back in the car.

“My transplant coordinator said she was so sorry to wake me up again,” Cooley said. “I said, ‘Honey, I am so over that.’ I told her I was about to start my car. That’s a benefit from the trial run.”

Cooley’s niece, Seshadrial Miers, is her deputized caregiver. The two are very close, and Cooley protected her when they traveled to Jackson. “It was rainy, and I drove,” she laughed.

Koller said that as they prepared for surgery, a troubling thought ran through her mind: Bad things can happen to good people. “So, I teased her before surgery. I asked her to tell me a few bad things she’d done in her life.

“She told me that in kindergarten, she had stolen a My Little Pony. I felt much better knowing she’d done that.”

Not quite four days after her transplant, Cooley and Miers headed back to Duck Hill. “She has at least tied our record there. Getting home four days after this surgery is remarkable,” said Steve Harvey, a nurse practitioner on the Jackson campus who will take the lead in making sure Cooley gets regular follow-up care.

“I tell my patients that if you do well, you might never see your surgeon again unless you want to,” Harvey said. “You’ll have a team of 20 people taking care of you. From evaluation for a transplant to pre-op to surgery to follow-up, we’re a big team.”

Cooley, who admits to working on her laptop in the throes of sepsis, vows to make them proud. “I’m thankful that the two campuses of UMMC are under the same university umbrella,” she said.

Miers “is the enforcer,” she said. “I want to learn how to listen to people, to chill out, and to sit my tail down. I want to get back to hanging out with my nieces and nephews.”

Cooley, Koller says, “is unstoppable.”


Anonymous said...

Nice article sir. It was a good morning read. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad she is doing well. Many people don't realize what a fantastic hospital UMMC is. It is well regarded by medical practitioners across the country and medical students come from all over the world for education there. Perfect? No. But I'd rather go to UMMC for serious medical issues such as an organ transplant or extreme traumatic injuries than the smaller private hospitals in the Jackson area.

Anonymous said...

The other poster is exactly right. UMMC really is a great hospital and has wonderful clinic care. I go to the Ear, Nose, and Throat clinic and could not ask for better care. Thanks UMMC.

Anonymous said...

UMMC is the only Level 1 trauma center in MS.

Marcus Welby said...

"But I'd rather go to UMMC for serious medical issues such as an organ transplant...than the smaller private hospitals in the Jackson area."

Really? It's not like other Jackson hospitals are doing a whole lot of transplants anyway.

Anonymous said...

Wow. How much does UMC pay Kingfish to print their bi-weekly propaganda column. And then—UMC PR Dept posts the comments about how great it is 😳

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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