Brian's heart

EKSTRA - Brians Hjerte

This is the story about Brian Gerkvist and the heart transplant he undertook in February of 2014. 

Brian had a heart attack on may 28th 2011 and because his heart was completely worn down he got a mechanical heart inserted and was put on the waiting list for a donor heart. That new heart arrived two and a half year later, and a journalist and I followed Brian's surgery and subsequent road to recovery for over two months. It was a fight, that nearly cost Brian his life and turned out to be much tougher, than Brian had ever imagined.

Initially the surgery goes as planned. The surgeons remove the mechanical heart and replace it with the donor heart, which begins to beat. But suddenly it stops and the surgeons can't get it to start beating again. This isn't entirely unexpected. A heart can be paralyzed after transportation and start beating again after a few days. But at the same time Brian suffered massive internal bleeding. Over the following days the doctors pump 40 liters of blood through Briain. This is equivalent to the same amount as eight people have in the body. After four days on life support the doctors attempts to get Brian's heart to start beating again and after a lengthy surgery the heart finally beats on its own.

This was only the beginning for Brian. The surgery, medication and life support left him with leaking lungs, failing kidneys and an immune system that was practically nonexistent so even the most minor of infections could kill him. On top of that he had a blood clot the doctors did not dare remove.

It took over two months of rehabilitation and testing before Brian finally was well enough to be discharged from the hospital.