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Third time's a charm for Ottertail man

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Less than one month after being listed as high priority for a heart transplant, LeRoy Wegscheid received his new heart.

After months of medical turmoil, followed by two false alarms, LeRoy and his wife Ruth are relieved that the transplant process is coming to an end, with LeRoy growing stronger each day.

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LeRoy's medical journey began back in April, culminating with his decision to try for a heart transplant. Even after being listed as high priority, the couple first went through two "dry runs" where they were rushed to Minneapolis on a jet and LeRoy was prepped, only to find out at the last minute that after visual inspection, the heart available for transplant was not acceptable.

Luckily, the third try was a success and LeRoy went into surgery at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 18. The surgery concluded at 3:30 a.m. the following morning. Almost immediately, LeRoy's body took to the transplant and he began to rapidly progress through the healing process.

By noon that day he was taken out of sedation and his breathing tube was removed at 2:30 in the afternoon. Some initial problems with his kidneys were resolved within a few days by adjusting his medications to raise his blood pressure and pacing his heart a little faster with an external pacemaker.

LeRoy is already eating well and has been up walking with Cardiac Rehab. He and his wife are being trained about the medications he will be taking and other information necessary after a heart transplant.

The couple is looking forward to coming back to their home near the city of Ottertail. Even though it appears LeRoy will be released from the hospital soon, it will likely be at least until Thanksgiving before they are able to return to this area.

For the Wegscheids, it is a blessing just to see how well LeRoy is doing.

"We've had many miracles and expect them to continue, knowing that we are in God's hands and need to pray and trust,"

Ruth wrote on a website detailing LeRoy's recovery.

The online journal was established so friends and family can remain updated on LeRoy's progress. To access the journal, go to the caringbridge.org website and enter "leroywegscheid." The following entry was written by LeRoy's wife, Ruth:

Wednesday, Oct. 25

All is going wonderfully. We got the results of the biopsy this morning, and there is zero, right, zero rejection after a week. LeRoy's kidneys are working great and his creatinine is down to 1.3, which is normal. The first time in many years.

The doctor says LeRoy got a "young" heart, which is all they can say now. Every measure of how his heart is working is perfect, and the doctors said that his new heart is working as well as any of ours.

He does have a small leak in his right lung, which according to his primary nurse is not uncommon, especially with removal of the LVAD. It will keep him in the hospital a bit longer, maybe a few days, but no big deal. It is only a week after all since transplant. I asked, is this a major, moderate or mild concern and she said mild. The zero rejection is a much bigger positive than the leak is a negative, so we can deal with that.

LeRoy continues to be a model patient, is eating well, and should have a much more restful day today, as our education pieces have moved down a bit with a few more days in the hospital. That's good, as we were both on overload yesterday.

Thanks for all your prayers, and the messages are wonderful. We can't print here, but Shelly will print and send them down with my brother who is brining all the LVAD equipment back when they come to visit tomorrow. Yeah!

Neither of us is sorry to be rid of the stuff, but we thank God for it, as it got LeRoy to where he was strong for this next step. He walks with Cardiac Rehab twice a day, and did great this a.m. Bye for now. Will keep you posted.

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