HEALTH: Getting back to normal: Recovery going well for Kevin Fee after heart transplantLife for Kevin Fee is pretty routine these days, and that’s the way he likes it. “Things are slowly getting back to normal,” Fee said. “I’m feeling a lot better than I did before the transplant.
Life for Kevin Fee is pretty routine these days, and that’s the way he likes it.
Fee, 51, received a heart transplant at Abbot Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis about six months ago after learning that an aneurism had damaged his heart so severely it couldn’t be repaired. The former Grand Forks Herald sports editor returned home to Grand Forks in late October 2010. For the first few months after his return, he had to have check-ups at Abbot Northwestern every two weeks.
Now it’s every three months.
“Things are slowly getting back to normal,” Fee said. “I’m feeling a lot better than I did before the transplant.
His most recent check-up showed that his body was not rejecting his new heart and that his blood work was normal.
“Things are going extremely well,” Fee said. In February, he returned to work at Minnkota Power Cooperative where he works as communications supervisor. He works in the morning, and then goes home around noon and rests, he said.
“I’m still fatigued in the afternoon, sometimes.”
Overall, though, he’s feeling stronger and walks a mile or two every day. He hopes to return to work full-time in May. Besides exercising, Fee eats a heart-healthy diet and daily takes about 25 oral medications. Most of the medications are to prevent rejection, prevent infection and for high blood pressure, he said.
Eventually, the number of medications will be reduced to about a half dozen a day and he only will visit the doctor once a year for an annual check-up, Fee said.
His experience as a transplant patient has heightened his awareness of the numbers of people in the area who have had heart transplants, he said.
“What I found out was there were a lot more people from this area than I had ever heard of.”
Fee attends a transplant support group, which is held every third Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Altru Health System. He can identify with the other people in the transplant support group, he said.
“They had a lot of the same obstacles I had to overcome.” The support group wants to champion LifeSource Organ and Tissue Donation and is considering participating in an event, such as a parade, that would promote the organization, Fee said.
Fee also wants to give moral support to other people in the area who are having heart transplants, similar to the way Mike Blake, another heart transplant patient from Grand Forks, supported him.
The events of the past eight months have put life in perspective for Fee.
“It makes you appreciate the next day a lot more.”
In fact, “One More Day,” a song by Diamond Rio, has become his theme song, Fee said.
“At one point I didn’t know I’d have another day, to be quite frank... I think I’m more mellow than I was in the past. I think I’m closer to family and friends.”
Reach Bailey at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send email to email@example.com.