Recovery going very well.
Brad's New Lease on Life
If someone you dearly loved were given a second chance at life, what would you give? How about a third chance so that they could see their children and grandchildren grow? You would give anything you could. As a family, we have been given that third chance. Our husband, father, brother, uncle, son and friend, Brad Jentsch, has been given a chance at a second pancreas transplant that without he would surely cease to continue to be the light in our lives that he has always been. Brad was originally diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 12. At the age of 32, his kidneys and pancreas failed, and he was graced with a double organ transplant. It was his second lease on life. He had a new kidney and a new pancreas! He was able to be there to watch his children grow into the adults they are now, he continued teaching and supporting Lutheran education. This allowed him to actively participate in the advancement of Christian education at Lutheran High School as the Development Director, Interim Principal at St. Paul Lutheran School, Director of Business Operations at an outdoor Christian camp, Camp LuWisoMo, Principal and Teacher at St. John Lutheran School-Sherman Center, and finally he has continued to extend his love of teaching at St. John Lutheran in Plymouth. These opportunities have been paramount in Brad’s ability to thank God for the life that He has allowed Brad to live to date. Brad continues to thank God for the blessings bestowed on him. He is grateful to be able to do the things he loves, like bow and gun hunting, fishing, gardening, landscaping, dog training and teaching others to appreciate the world in which we all live — all through Brad’s perspective and unabashed humor. Sadly, but as expected, Brad’s pancreas has again begun to fail. He now again suffers with Type I diabetes because of the failed transplanted pancreas. Against most odds and most medical precedent, Brad has been cleared and placed on a transplant list to receive a second pancreas. This opportunity is unparalleled in its blessing and uniqueness. However, as one can only guess, this opportunity to keep Brad as we know him, comes with a hefty price tag. Insurance will only cover so much of the medical bills, and during recovery, Brad will not be able to work as he has had in the past to support his family. Brad takes particularly pride in helping others solve their problems and make it a point to solve his own problems without burdening others. However, as family, we know that Brad can’t do this on his own and truthfully, we can’t do it on our own either. We are humbled in even having to ask for support and Brad is frankly a bit embarrassed. From the depths of our hearts, we are forever indebted to your generosity.
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Surgery was scheduled for 7:30 a.m. January 28th – what a fabulous birthday present for me!. We were taken down to the operating room prep area at 7:00 a.m. Brad and I were able to pray together, and they took him to the OR at 7:50 a.m. The anesthesia doctors promised me they would tell me all the good stuff Brad said on the way to the OR after receiving his happy drug. So far, no reports. OR is on the 3rd floor. From the 3rd floor, I migrated to the 2nd floor surgical waiting room with about 20 of my new best friends. We receive a “buzzer” — much like the buzzers you get at Olive Garden. The unit provides updates throughout the surgery. The first update was around 8:15 a.m. saying the surgery was underway and going well. The next update was at 10:30 a.m., which said the surgery was going well. At 11:45 my buzzer went off telling me the surgery was “closed” and to proceed to the desk. I was a bit astonished by this fact. I was directed to the “First Day Surgery” department because the surgeon wanted to speak with me. Cue heart dropping and slight panic. I find my way to the department, and the nurse at the station had no idea why I was there. She told me to have a seat in their waiting room. I was patient…. I wanted 30 minutes… which seemed like an eternity. I asked the nurses what the status was, and when was the doctor going to talk to me. Again, they had no idea what I was talking about. It turns out the person at the surgical waiting area messed up. Brad had not been out of surgery yet. So far, this is the only bit of frustration I have had here. I went back up to the surgical waiting room at 12:20 p.m. By this time, apparently Brad was coming out of surgery, and the fellow, Dr. Gracon came to talk to me. Apparently what happened to prompt my call to the surgical area was that Brad was having a reaction to the medication they used in the induction of steriods. He broke out into hives from neck to toe. He was administered a high dose of Benadryl and additional steriods, which kept him in the recovery room for an extra hour, making sure he wasn’t going to stop breathing. He came back to the room at 2:30 p.m.
Brad is now back in his room. The fellow came to talk to me to indicate that the surgery was picture perfect. Brad’s blood sugars are perfect, and the blood is flowing through the pancreas beautifully. Brad did have an allergic reaction to the medication used to induce the first round of steriods into his body. He broke out in hives from neck to toe. From leaving the room at 7:00 a.m. this morning, to being back in the room at 2:30 p.m., I have done nothing except thank God for all the blessings he has given to Brad and me so far, and that God guide the hands of the surgeon and medical staff.
I am now going to head over to the Best Western (who offers a shuttle between the hospital and hotel) to check in, take a shower and head back. Brad will be heavily sleeping for the next four hours. The next 24 hours are the most vital — and he will be monitored very, very closely for rejection.
I was able to snooze a bit from 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Thank you everyone for all your prayers. I felt surrounded by love and comfort the entire day, and it is because of all of you lifting us up in prayer.
God bless each and every one of you!
After receiving a call yesterday morning about a good donor, we came down to Madison to beat out the storm. Thank God we did because THE ORGAN IS VIABLE!! Brad is in surgery as we speak. GOD IS GREAT!
Yesterday, January 17, 2019, Brad received another call from UW at 9:10 a.m. He was teaching gym class and didn’t answer his phone, so Madison tried calling his mom. Mom called me, and I called school. In the meantime, Madison also Googled Brad’s school number and was able to reach him there. Why I didn’t get called is still a mystery. Brad was told there was an organ on its way to Madison and that his surgery was going to be scheduled at 1:00 p.m., and that we needed to get down there right away. I also called Brad’s school line and was placed through to Brad. While talking with Brad, Madison called back to say that the surgeon has decided that a pancreatectomy was going to be required to remove the old pancreas, and because the donor pancreas will have been out of body for so long, the surgery was not going to proceed. In a span of literally two minutes, we were on board with a good, non high-risk donor, having a surgery scheduled at 1:00 p.m., to “just kidding, not this time.”
I called Madison to discuss why mom is getting called before me. Apparently, I am listed as the secondary contact, and no one seems to know why mom is getting called before me. The stress Brad and I are going through is enough, but to put an elderly couple through the turmoil is too much. Now, I should be next to be called. The transplant coordinator said that she anticipates that Brad will be transplanted very soon.
We have a donor that has been brain dead and is donating all organs. We are waiting to find out if the pancreas is viable. Brad has been prepared for surgery. We should know in the next half hour if all is a go.
Last night at 4:15 pm we received a call that a there was another donor available. The person is brain dead and is donating all organs. This morning at 8:05 we were advised of the donor surgery happening at noon today. We will know by this afternoon if it is a viable pancreas and whether or not it is time for us to go to Madison. Stay tuned.
As this transplant process progresses, the emotional roller coaster will be gaining more and more momentum. Throughout this process, the idea of a transplant seemed to be getting farther and farther from our thoughts until last night. Last night, the reality of the call and hearing there was a deceased donor, struck a chord with me. Even though I’ve known this, the impact of knowing someone had to die for Brad to have his “new lease on life,” really hit home. With New Year’s Eve day upon us, and the drunk driving statistics as they are, it would seem likely that a new pancreas will be just around the corner.
I wanted to take a moment to thank God for all the blessings he has bestowed upon Brad, our family and me. While you are all praying for our family, I kindly ask that you also and a prayer for all of the families of those individuals who are the donors for so many others to live.
We are still waiting for a call after 22 days of being on the transplant list. Please continue to pray. Thank you all for your love and support!