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December 27, 2010 - Feeling hopeful!

Hi everyone,

Merry Christmas! We hope that you had a wonderful time celebrating Christ's birth with family and friends. As you can imagine, Christmas was even more meaningful for us this year. We never thought that Greg would be home for Christmas this year- there were times when we even wondered if he'd be here at all. But God continues to pour out blessings upon us and Greg was home and feeling good on Christmas! What an incredible gift to be given a second chance at life!

Last Thursday Greg had another biopsy to check for rejection. We were worried that the biopsy would show level 2 or 3 rejection because then he would've been admitted to the hospital for treatment on Christmas Eve. However, the hospital didn't call us until today and we were told that the biopsy showed level 1 rejection! Level 1 is a safe level that does not require treatment and enables the doctors to decrease Greg's prednisone doses. It's amazing that after having his heart for a full month, Greg hasn't had any significant rejection!

We're grateful that his prednisone doses are decreasing because it has the worst side effects of all of his medications. Greg is still having a lot of confusion at night, waking up not knowing where he is or what's happening, and seeing things that aren't there. We are figuring out some ways to deal with the side effects better (such as making sure I stay in the same room with him as soon as the confusion begins) but it is very difficult for him. Please pray that the prednisone doses would continue to decrease and that the side effects would decrease even faster.

Greg continues to get stronger each day, though some days feel like setbacks. Through his hard work at physical therapy, he is now able to walk up and down a flight of stairs without assistance (amazing!). He spends less time sleeping each day and is gaining more and more independence by being able to dress himself, make some of his own food, etc. He's also breathing easier because the diuretics he is on have taken off significant amounts of the extra fluid. He still has a lot of visible swelling but it is finally going down!

It'll still be 2 more months until Greg is allowed to leave the apartment for anything other than doctor's appointments or to have visitors other than the at-home nurse and physical therapist. Since his prednisone levels are still high he is very immunosuppressed and it is too risky to expose him to anyone or anything that is not absolutely necessary. His immediate family was going to visit us for Christmas but couldn't come because one of them ended up getting sick on Christmas morning. We're hoping that they'll be able to come down for New Years, but we have to make sure there is no chance that any of them are sick or have been around anyone who is sick! We'll push back our Christmas celebration with them as long as is necessary - this is a really special Christmas for his whole family and we want to celebrate... safely! Aside from their visit, we are under strict orders to keep all other visitors away for now.

As you can see, Greg's recovery is going better than we ever imagined it would. We know we have a long road ahead of us but it is so encouraging to see Greg getting stronger and stronger instead of sicker and sicker. His new heart is a precious miracle and a reminder to us that we have a good and loving Father in Heaven.



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