SENIORS AND MAJOR SURGICAL CHANGES

Mar 19th, 2012 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Amazing Medical Advances Affect Seniors

Forty two years ago I had my first corneal transplant.  Subsequent to that, I experienced two additional transplants and within a few days, I will be undergoing my fourth.  The miracle of all of this, apart from still having vision, is the changes in the surgical procedure itself.

The first transplant was done in hospital, required a stay of a week and a recovery period, at home, for a month.  No lifting, bending, or other activity that could compromise the transplant.  Prior to that time, I was told that a lengthy stay in bed, with no movement of one’s head was the practice.

By the time of my second transplant, about 1972, the procedure had not changed significantly. And, when in 1997, I had my third transplant, the amount of hospitalization and recovery time had been reduced appreciably.

Preparing for Transplant #4

Now, within a couple of weeks, I will undergo my fourth transplant.  This time the procedure is quite different.  It will be done, outpatient, taking about three hours. At home overnight and a check with the ophthalmologist the next day and then you’re done, assuming no complications.  Within a span of years, the sophistication of surgery, in this and other undertakings, has taken a giant leap.  Of course, I am quite a bit older than I was when undergoing my first transplant, but to imagine that the procedure itself has been abbreviated so much is an indication of how far medicine has come.

This time, the transplant may not produce significantly improved vision, but then again it may.  And, thus the risk is inconsequential.  For, at my age any improvement will be welcomed. When I underwent transplants previously, even the one in 1997, I had to await the availability of a cornea.  Now, the surgery has been scheduled on a specific day at a specific time, knowing the cornea replacement will be available.  Amazing.

Of course, transplants of organs has become quite ordinary and predictable.  It is a wonder how many persons have or will undergo transplants of every kind and description.  It is also amazing how successful most of them are.  It is also a tribute to those who have chosen, upon death, to donate their organs for others who, with surgery and proper medical care, may lead an improved life.

There are two morals to this tale.  One is that transplants need not be feared. They are common and often remarkably helpful.  The other is that organs are frequently available, because of the considered generosity of those who have previously agreed to donate their organs.



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