Chest pain, shortness of breath and in the clinic cardiac arrest - the 48-year-old Kerstin Fendrich had hardly a chance. Today she lives with a strange heart and wins medals in sports
The air is icy on January 26, 2010. It storms and hails at Hamburg Airport. The plane from Stuttgart just managed to land. On board: a heart, safely packed in a special container. A new life for Kerstin Fendrich. Two years before, she does not suspect that she would ever become critically ill. After an aerobics class she cycles in April 2008 through Kollmar, a village on the banks of the Elbe, and enjoys the warm spring air. Shortly she goes out with the dog, puts on the pajamas, dumbles around with the son in the bathroom. Suddenly she just falls over. Her jaw hurts, as if a claw drilled into it. Chest pain and shortness of breath come to it. Her arm becomes lame, her shoulder hurts. She can no longer speak clearly. Her son, then 17, sees the panic in her eyes and immediately dials 112. The ambulance is coming - but without an ambulance.
"Turn around, you have three children"
The two paramedics think at first that they had dislocated themselves during sports. Only a friend convinces her to take Kerstin Fendrich with her. Valuable time elapses until they are finally delivered to Klinikum Itzehoe. It's almost too late. Two coronary vessels are dangerously narrowed. The doctors are trying to set two stents: supports that keep the vessels open. But Kerstin Fendrich gets atrial and ventricular fibrillation, then: cardiac arrest. "I saw myself lying on the table, heard the doctor say something about 'Defi'. I did not feel any pain, but I thought, turn around, you have three children. This is not how you kick off. "
Kerstin Fendrich is brought back to life. Until that day, the single mother was never seriously ill. As a sports and dance teacher, she taught gymnastics, jazz dance and ballet, while working as a director of a restaurant. The rest of the time, the big house with garden, dog and cats demanded the power of the petite person. "I often went beyond my limits and did not pay enough attention to myself." Braked: the superwoman spends several weeks in intensive care. She is getting worse and worse. In the heart center of the University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf (UKE) their mitral valve is reconstructed, they put a kind of rubber ring around it so that it closes again. Her heart is pumping weaker and weaker.
Looking for the heart-Ferrari
A transplant psychologist suggests to Kerstin Fendrich to think about a donor heart. First she blocks, wants to try to heal by herself. She manages to return home. "But I was tired. The whole body was on a low profile, I was always cold. "Kerstin Fendrich can be put on the waiting list, may initially wait for a donor heart at home. An agonizing time. "Every time I got a shock when the phone rang." She gets two calls, but then the heart does not fit twice. "I was looking for the perfect organ for me, so to speak, a heart-Ferrari, because I'm still so young."
Because she does not feel better, she returns to the UKE in autumn 2009, spending four months at the station there. Kerstin Fendrich now has the status HU on the list of Eurotransplant, the central office for organ donation: high urgent, very important. Then finally the good news: A suitable heart was found. She sees the helicopter picking up the organ from the window. At ten o'clock in the evening you push her into the operating room. In their hometown, friends and neighbors light candles and keep vigil. What was going through her head? "I just thought: Yes! I was not excited. "In just over four hours, Tobias Deuse, Senior Physician and Head of Thoracic Transplantation, uses her new heart with his team. At 0:35 clock it starts to beat. "The next morning at eight I was sitting in the chair again, eating broccoli cream soup. I was finally warm again and I had no pain. "
"Heart welcomes like a new baby"
From the beginning she is well with the new heart, after ten days she leaves the hospital. "There was a knock in the whole body, because the nerves had not yet gotten used to the new organ. I welcomed it like my new baby and introduced him to me: Nice to have you there. "So that the heart does not get kicked off, it has to take lifelong medication for immunosuppression. The side effects she feels: she can no longer dance, because the medicine around the joints have softened the bands. Kerstin Fendrich has relocated to swimming and recently won two gold medals in breast and back swimming at the German Organ Transplant Championships.
Has her character changed because the heart of a stranger beats her - does she even discover new traits? All nonsense, says Kerstin Fendrich."My new heart bumps and rumbles, very different from the old one, which I barely felt at the end. But otherwise I see it pragmatically as a pump. "The distance is doing her good. She knows the rumor that people with a new heart suddenly have different preferences, suddenly like classic or motorcycling. "My theory is: you just have more time to take a look. And maybe something new to get out of it. "
She does not know her donor. But after a year she was ready to send a letter to the relatives via the German Foundation for Organ Transplantation. "So that you know that the heart has arrived well." A large scar on the chest reminds her daily of her affair of the heart. And also to be careful with yourself. The volcano has calmed down.
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Organ Donation: The Most Common Errors
The issue of organ donation unsettles many - partly because so many misconceptions about transplants tend to arise. The-Health-Site explains the most common mistakes.
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"Organ donor cards may not do everything to save me
Basically, intensive care physicians are not involved in organ harvesting and transplantation. Their goal is to save the patient's life after an accident or serious illness. Only when the death has been determined by completely irreversible brain failure - in which no resuscitation is made more, the possibility of organ donation comes into play. And this must be witnessed by two doctors independently.
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"I do not want to donate all my organs, so I'd rather not donate"
On the organ donor card can be recorded, which organs and tissues you want to donate, and which not.
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"I just want to donate, not make my body of science available"
That is not the case. Donor organs and tissues are designed to make sick people healthy. If you want to make your body available to science, you must do so at a scientific institution.
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"For ethical and religious reasons I am against organ donation"
Neither the Catholic, the evangal church or the Central Council of Muslims reject donations. On the contrary, they support organ donation as an act of charity towards the sick and the disabled.
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"If I die, my willingness to donate will lapse, if my relatives want it otherwise"
If the consent of the donor is documented in writing, the will of the deceased has priority. The removal of organs is legally permissible, even without the consent of relatives. However, you must be informed about the step.
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"I am not healthy enough for an organ donation"
In principle, donors who are acutely ill with cancer or who have been diagnosed with HIV disqualify themselves. For all others, the doctors decide after the onset of brain death, whether organs are eligible for donation.
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"My relatives should see me as they say goodbye, as they knew me"
The removal of organs for donation takes place with the same surgical care as any other surgery. Thereafter, the corpse can be laid out and the burial according to the wishes to be carried out.
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"I'm too old for an organ donation"
There is no maximum or minimum age for the donation. Because people who rely on a foreign organ, there are in every age group. Decisive is the state of the organs, and depends only conditionally on the age.
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"I have the organ donor card only if I want to donate"
On the card can also be registered, if you do not want to donate. It helps, therefore, to take a clear stand - and for others - to take a stand on the subject.