Rod Fraser

Daily diary notes of my single lung transplant – 1994

Geelong, Tuesday 6 December, 1994

A very hot, clear day. A top temperature of 39 degrees. Had my hair cut todat. Went to physio at Grace McKellar House at 2.00pm. Left early at 2.50, and told the Physio Tony that I probably would not be in on Thursday as I have an appointment with Dr. Greg Snell on Thursday at 1.30pm.

Too hot to go to the farm, my brothers place, and ride the paddocks on the little motor bike.

At 8.15pm. Louise MacFarlane rang, would I like a new lung tonight. Yes please. Louise said that there was plenty of time. The operation would be tomorrow morning, going to theatre at about 4.30am. Louise suggested we leave to arrive between 12.00 and 1.00am.

Ring borther Malcolm and daughter Samantha to organise the others I rang Sandra and sat under the tree in the front garden and chatted. It was lovely and very sad she could not come up with us.

Malcolm arrives with Samantha, Campbell and Denise (ex wife) and my mother. Off we go to the hospital at 11.15pm.

Day 1: Wednesday 7 December, 1994 – Transplant Day

Arrived at the hospital at 12.15am. Jane Harris meets us at the emergency doors. We go to x-ray and I meet Terry Vaughan who is to have the right lung tonight.

I have the chest x-ray then go up to 5D for pre admission and preparation. Louise MacFarlane and Jane Harris take me through it. Have a complete body shave, shower and start medications. Meet Mario Palandri, who had a double lung 3 weeks ago, he is having a blood transfusion.

After a lot of waiting, go to Theatre at 5.15am. Was to be 4.30. Louise Macfarlane advised at about 3.00 that it was a definite goer, baring last minute hitches.

Say goodbye to the crowd and go into the operating suite area. Leave behind all the family. The doors close and we're off. Thinking of Sandra, I take her with me in my heart.

I am in the Anaesthetic holding bay talking to the sisters and Jane and Louise for about half an hour. Into the theatre. Louise stays next to me and we chat as the Ananethisist starts his preparaton of his machines, and me. Puts main line into neck. Another line into the left hand. Sets a drip off in the hand and says it's time to go tp sleep. Puts a mask over my mouth and nose. That's it.

Wake up in intensive care 1F sometime in the afternoon. Can vaguely remember a group of Doctors, Sam, Ham & Cam, Malcolm, Mum and Helen at different times. First lasting memory after operation was of Angela, gowned up, visiting at about 10.20pm

Respirator was to come out at midnight, was not ready. Intensive care all night.

Day 2: Thursday 8 December, 1994

In 1F - 5.30am breathing on my own but the tube is still in. 8.00am - Tube taken out of my mouth, what joy. It's all up hill now. 9.00am - roll over, a big TV set there, started watching TV. 9.30am Get the nurse to bring over the phone and ring Sandra, sadly not at home.

9.45am - Dr Greg Snell and Louise Macfarlane call in for a chat, all smiles, mainly from me. Have a nice chat with them. 10.30am - Physiotherapist calls for a first session. 1.00pm Had a light lunch.

2.00pm - Shifted up from 1F to 2F, the cardio thoracic surgical unit. I was greeted by nurses 'Lurch' and his Mate. What a fun pair, did a great job. Perhaps they really were escaped from a lunatic asylum. Visitors in the afternoon plus Doctors, Chest x/ray, bloods taken, etc. Had first full meal at night.

My new lung – as far as I know

A young male, very fit. I believe my new lung came from New Zealand. The first lungs to come from New Zealand to Australia for transplantation. The donor was a skier. The lungs were in pristine condition.

Dr. Esmore and Dr Greg Snell flew to New Zealand on a Lear Jet belonging to Kerry Packer to retrieve the organs. The ishochemic time was either 4.10am or 4.40am. I believe Don and Greg arrived back in at the Alfred in Australia with the lungs at 8.30am.

The Alfred transplant team had organised the paperwork for an International Organ Collection some time earlier in case it would be needed.

Day 3: Friday 9 December, 1994

Busy morning with x-ray, bloods, Doctors, Kylie Bennett the Dietician, Judy Allen the Occupational Therapist, the Anathetists.

Sandra and Barbara called in, great to see them. Barb went into the city and Sandra stayed all day.

Shifted at 12.00 to the respitary ward 5D. Feel a lot better now. At night one drain tube taken out and also one main line out of my neck. Chest x-ray at 11.00pm.

Day 4: Saturday 10 December, 1994

Busy morning, Jan Kirkpatrick the Physiotherapist, Louise Macfarlane, Anaesthisists, x/ray in room, bloods, normal bodily functions working again.

Dr. Esmore called in with two Japanese Doctors who are looking over the Transplant Unit. They are starting one up in Japan. More visitors in the afternoon.

In the other bed in the room is Debbie. Her husband Andy is visiting. Debbie is No 5 heart and lung transpalnt at the Alfred and was transplanted four years ago. After starting to have a baby her new lungs are rejecting. She is very, very low and finding it hard to battle on. She is on a Bi-Pap machine at night. Dr. Snell came in on the Sunday morning to talk to her and comfort her. They have shifted her to a single room so her husband and family can stay the night with her.

I have had a few talks with her, not very easy. I hope I helped her, i think I did. She really wants eternal peace now. Debbie passed away soon after.

Day 5: Sunday 11 December, 1994

A nice quiet day today, a time to reflect. The usual x-rays, bloods. and Doctors. Debbie moved out to a single room and Daniele Barotta moved in – Asthma.

I had the catheter out and also another line out. Had a shave and a shower. More family visitors in the afternoon and some at night.

Day 6: Monday 12 December, 1994

A new week starts and the hospital revs up again. Bloods taken, physio in for a session, doctors do the rounds. Other drain tube removed and also the Epidural line is taken out. The epidural has has been a great friend, I have had no pain but rather only some discomfort. The main line is also removed.

I sent a letter to Dr. Franklyn Rosenfeld at the Alfred Baker Institute as I had promised I would let him know when I had the transplant. I met him when I was being asessed, he was in the room next to me and I was surprised when he told me he was a Transplant Surgeon.

I have been retaining fluid. I started taking small walks. I got the phone on. Was wheeled to x-ray. Denise and Gaye called in, Margaret Mayo and also Gary and Pat from Western Australia.

Had a long talk to Terry, who received the left lung, and Lorraine Vaughan. We both had a consultation at his bedside with Dr. Greg Snell.

Day 7: Tuesday 13 December, 1994

Sandra rang, Jon down so won't be up today. Good to be able to talk. Samantha rang and will bring things up tomorrow.

A lovely quiet day the most relaxed I have felt in ten years. Wheeled to x/ray and wheeled myself back but got caught. Had a chat with Jane Harris.

Day 8: Wednesday 14 December, 1994

First full shower alone today.

Debbie... died peacefully yesterday afternoon, exactly the way she wanted it as she discussed with me before she moved rooms on Sunday.

Getting better, feeling better, no pain killers today and Greg Snell said everything going smoothly. A bronchoscopy organised for next Tuesday. If I feel like it I can go out during the weekend.

A mob of people called in today and Ted moved into the other bed, he is doing a sleep test.

Day 9: Thursday 15 December, 1994

I had a very restless night last night but could move around more. Got to sleep late and slept late. Jan Fitzpatrick bought Jack, Paul and Jack's Auntie Margaret up to see me from the clinic, great to see them. Jack is on the wating list and was was at Grace McKellar physio with me.

Samantha and Steve called in to see me and Judi Idle telephoned. She heard about the transpalnt last night and she will call in tomorrow morning at 11.30am.

Trevor Williams on rounds with Greg Snell, thanked them both for everything.

Day 10: Friday 16 December, 1994

Went to the Gym in the Physio department for the 1st time. Did some very, very, very light work.

Judi Idle called in and it was lovely of her to come up from Geelong ot see me. Sister Helen and Brother Malcolm called in with some clothes. Walked to x-ray .

Greg said that the x-ray looks great and that if the bronc on Tuesday at 9.30 is clear I should be able to go home on Wednesday.

I went outside and walked up and down the steps to the road, OK and feels good. I am walking around the Hospital more now. Sandra rang, she is off to Gosford in the morning, wish I was going too.

Day 11: Saturday 17 December, 1994

Took some panadene forte last night then slept. Marco readmitted this morning with a 40 degree temperature. I went down and bought some tatts lotto tickets and then went outside and sat for a while, it's great to be able to breath normally again, what a relief.

In the afternoon sister Helen call and picked me up and we went down to St Kilda Beach, it was a beautiful day and great to be out and about again. Had a short walk and sat and had a coffee. Went for a drive and a walk along Ackland Street, St Kilda. We were gone for two and a half hours.

Feeling better each day. Watched the Carols from Sydney. Mario was very bad tonight and probably has pneumonia. The medical staff worked on him for 3 to 4 hours non stop and Dr. Judy Morton was putting great big long needles into him and taking out lots of fluid. I finally got to sleep at about 3.30am

Day 12: Sunday 18 December, 1994

Woke about 8.00 and rested for the morning Feeling the wounds healing now. No pain only discomfort.

Helen Armitage called in at 12.30 to take me to the Botanic Gardens for a picnic lunch. So peaceful and relaxing sitting in and walking around the gardens. We got back at 3.30pm, legs very tired.

At night I watched the last 30 years of American Bandstand. Sang all the old songs for two hours with Mario who was a lot better today.

Day 13: Monday 19 December, 1994

Went to physio for an hour this morning. Stella Leung from the Royal Melbourne Hospital called and made arrangements for tests at the Essendon Hospital on Thursday for a bone density research project which will be carried out over two years.

Had more tests during the day and rested most of the afternoon, I feel that I could have gone home a few days ago. At night I took a long walk in the park opposite, I am going further every day.

The Christmas decorations are up in the ward, it gives you a nice feeling.

Day 14: Tuesday 20 December, 1994

Went for a bronchoscopy at 9.15am which started at 10.00am. I woke up on the table as bright as a button. Went back to the ward, into bed and out like a light until 1.00pm.

Helen and Val Monkivitch called in and chatted, I rested for the afternoon. My thoughts are in Gosford, I wish I was there right now.

At five o'clock there was this beautiful sound, I got out of bed to see what it was and it was a choir singing Christmas Carols in the ward and they stayed for about twenty minutes. Magnificent.

At night I went for a long walk with Terry and Lorraine Vaughan, outside and in the park. Terry stayed on the hospital side of the road just taking in the experience and a little anxious to take the leap of walking across the road. Terry has been on oxygen for over ten years and attached to a long air tube for all that time, so his movements for that time have been very limited.

Greg Snell said that the bronchoscopy looked very good and the join was hardly visible.

Day 15: Wednesday 21 December, 1994

I think I can leave today. It will be great to get out and start a new life. Went to the physio for and hour sesion. I am waiting on results of the biopsy from the bronc, but told to pack up and get ready to go. Discharge medications arrived. Results of the biopsy OK, rejection A1.

Allowed to leave.

Sister Helen picked me up to take me to her home in Carnegie until after Christmas. Left at 1.00pm

Sandra and I were Married on 29 December, 2001 in Gosford

My Sister Helen had a single lung transplant in 1993
My Brother Malcolm had a single lung transplant in 1999