St Francis' Tonia's house helps heart transplant families

Tuesday, November 4th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Heart transplant surgery is a blessing for the recipient, but can be a hardship on out of town family members who must find a place to stay for days, even weeks at a time.

News on 6's Rick Wells talked to a transplant recipient whose family took advantage of a new service, Tonia's House.

Dr Doug Ensley: “Take a few deep ones in and out." Tim Hale of Muskogee is St Francis Hospital's 117th heart transplant recipient. He's in for his regular weekly check up. Dr Ensley: "His chances of being here one year from today are about 95%, his chances of being here 5 years from now are about 80%." He got his new heart October 14th and he's doing very well.

Dr Ensley: "OK, good deal we'll see you next week." While he was in the hospital getting his new heart his family headquartered at Tonia's House. It's a one-bedroom apartment provided free by Transplant TEAMS a support group, which works with recipients and their families. This gives them a home away from home.

Chuck Stophel with Transplant TEAMS: "So they had a place to stay, without having to sleep in the waiting room." Susie Hale: "If we did have to come from Muskogee every day we couldn't have done it." Transplant TEAMS provides this apartment free to transplant families who need it but they have bigger plans. Chuck Stophel: "We would like to have a place like a Ronald McDonald House on a smaller scale."

Tim Hale's family stayed here while he was in the hospital and he stayed here himself for a few days after he was discharged. As grateful as he is he did miss one thing. Tim Hale: "Cable that's the only thing I missed. I had everything else the microwave, food, except cable."

I guess in the high-tech world of heart transplants, rabbit ears just don't get it.

The apartment needs some additional furnishings, and as Tim Hale said, a cable TV hookup. If you'd like to help or would like more information call Transplant TEAMS at 523-3400.