Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving transplant tale: joyfully marking 18th month post-miracle

Keller and Cookie
10 days post-transplant
at SeaWorld's media day.

New Yorker Dr. Jonathan Fisher was chief surgeon for the transplantation for Bruce Keller, right. The Columbia University trained physician said all went extraordinarily well.  Keller did not need the customary ventilator to leave OR for the ICU.


This daunting hike near Malaga was 
accomplished with joy by Keller & Cookie.
Editor's Note: By request, as we mark the 18th month post-transplant, we offer an update on photographer Bruce Keller's remarkable recovery from liver transplantation in May of 2017. Scripps Green Hospital physicians, nurses and transplant team helped us through a trying time.  We are grateful and celebrate this Thanksgiving with new appreciation.

Leaving Scripps a record
three days after transplantation.
Dr. Randolph Schaffer who assisted with the transplant
conferred with Keller along with the other liver specialists.

TWO YEARS AGO, we were in Europe, moving up the transplant list for major surgery at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.
We knew it would be our last big international foray for a while. As we dealt Transplant's first few days
with Keller's liver disease and need for transplantation, we continued our arts driven life on the road.
The couple has made several international
 trips  since the transplant. Good news.

PLAYS, CONCERTS,  sailing, museums, weekend trips and close-by "staycations" were a balm as we waited for a donor.  We couldn't be more than two hours from the hospital, in case we
got "the call."  So this big trip to our beloved southern Spain was important.
Torrey Pines Reserve near Scripps became a regular
hiking ritual for the Yorkies and the recovering couple.
IT WAS a fabulous trip -- we have never had a bad one in our nearly 11 years together.  And less than five months after our return, we did get "the call." It was nearly 10 p.m. Friday, in Adjusting to transplant challenges
May of 2017. (Lucky Friday the 13th, and we'd just enjoyed dinner and the beach on our Friday date night.)   Surgery was performed at 4 a.m. May 14 by a brilliant team led by highly regarded specialists in transplantation.
The award-winning Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.
DR. CHRISTOPHER MARSH is head of the
Nick and Nora and Montana are part of the healing process.
team and his highly ranked associates take turns being on call for transplantation.  Chief surgeon for our early-morning transplant was Dr. Jonathan Fisher, a New Yorker from Columbia Medical School. When he met me shortly before 11 
 a.m.  that next morning, he told me everything had gone smoothly.
THE GOOD luck continued the next couple days.  Keller moved quickly from ICU to the regular wing of the hospital and on the third day, got his walking papers.  This shocked me because the literature had indicated nine or ten days in hospital would not be unusual.  Adjusting to transplant takes time 
Keller was back in the water 
to pursue his beloved scuba diving.
Five days would mean he was recovering with speed. A support group helped me through those first trying weeks and in less than two months we got the green light from our primary hepatologist to travel out-of-state. That late June trip included our niece's wedding on the Oregon coast and a dozen plays at Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Keller and his chief hepatologist,
head of Scripps liver transplantation
team, Dr. Catherine Frenette.
We even stopped at a casino for a couple nights to give me a gambling fix. (Non-smoking room for Keller and a little blackjack.)     
There are scans every three months, and the daily doses of anti-rejection drugs.  The blood work must happen every two weeks.  But we are able to travel, dance, sail, resume our life of theater, work and live music.
we both have life, and we live it fully.

Proud sentinel of the southern California coastline is the stately Torey pine.
UP NEXT:  The revered Torrey pine, whose name comes from its botanical reference, is a stately but endangered part of the southern California coastline.  Find out about its history and precarious future, and how it has graced some of our favorite times during our treasured outings near San Diego. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us Fridays for a novel look at travel, the arts, nature, family, pets and general fun.  


  1. Fellow patient patienrNovember 23, 2018 at 11:38 PM

    Refreshing.... happy story, great attitude and fun photos.

  2. So happy to hear that you are doing well.... Remember cuising with you during the "wait."