The first time I heard the term half life was August 14, 1999. I was sitting in the CCU (Critical Care Unit) of St. Pauls hospital. E was at the top of the heart transplant list and had undergone final testing to confirm his eligibility for the next available heart.
A heart was available and as long as the steroid response was succesful at supressing the auto immune disease that had been destroying his native heart he would receive the new one on what would be his 44th birthday, August 15th.
His cardiologist sat me down alone outside the unit and gave me the results of his testing. The disease was back and he was off the list. There would be no transplant the next day. I was devestated. But, he explained by the evidence of heart transplant half lives these results could be a good thing.
The historical evidence of heart transplant success was described in half lives. In 1999 fifty percent (half) of heart transplant patients make it to ten years. Of the remaining fifty percent, half would survive another five years. After that, another fifty percent would survive another five years… etc… The rule of half lives.. That being said, he told me, it was important for E to hold on to his native heart for every possible moment that he could.. Only at the last possible moment in the best possible scenario and with the most promising donor heart would they perform the surgery.
E held onto his native heart for seven more months. In March, the pathologist told us after examining his old heart post surgery that E had about 48 hours left.. It was the last possible moment and he received a perfect donor heart in a text book surgery. (Thank you donor family and thank you cardiologist)
I went home that August night after my meeting and had my first drink in six weeks. E had told Papa not to let me drink because “if she starts she wont stop”. I had stayed with E in the CCU until ten. When I got home, Papa had already fed and put the kids to sleep.. As I started to tell him about my meeting he poured me a glass of sherry. We sat in the living room and cried.. For the first time since the ordeal had begun in July. No more tears were shed or drinks poured throughout the next seven months. It was a lifetime ago.
Fifteen years and two half lives later E continues to defy the odds and will celebrate his sixtieth birthday this summer. He presided over the island AGM this weekend as the Community Association President. Along with the AGM there was a bake sale (we raised $500), there were crafts for sale and the big ticket raffle prize was awarded to a deserving islander (raffle ticket earnings upward $1400) . The meeting was without controversy and a friendly community atmosphere was obvious to all. As E stood before the crowd as President, cracking jokes and speaking about how happy we are with our decision to live amongst such a fine group of people he got a little emotional. To those sitting in the sunny ampitheatre listening, they took him at his word. He does love living here and we do love and respect our new neighbours. But for me and him, honestly we are thrilled, grateful and frankly a little shocked he is living
anywhere at all