Susan Crawford is beginning to think her husband has nine lives.
Sharp County Judge Harold Crawford, 66, who received a heart transplant in November 2003, underwent more than three hours of surgery Feb. 25 at Baptist Hospital in Little Rock to repair a collapsed lung. He is now in Cardiovascular Critical Care Intensive Care Unit on a ventilator, but Susan Crawford said his condition is improving.
"He made it through the surgery with flying colors again," she said, adding that he is on the ventilator to help his lungs heal without adding stress to his body by breathing on his own. "He is doing absolutely fantastic."
Crawford underwent a treatment for his lungs on Feb. 26. The treatment consists of spraying adhesive talc into the lungs to protect from infection and to help secure the lungs in the chest cavity, Susan Crawford said.
Crawford was rushed to Little Rock Feb. 21 by his wife and son, Kyle, a Highland police officer, after he began to have trouble breathing. He had just gotten off the telephone with his daughter in Texas when he began to suffer shortness of breath.
"He just couldn't catch his breath. I thought it was his heart, but when we got here we found out his lung had collapsed," Susan Crawford said. "He had like a blister on his lung that popped and caused his lung to collapse."
After Crawford was stabilized the physicians had to visit with heart specialist Dr. Steven Hutchins to determine the best route of care, she said. The judge went into surgery at 7 Friday morning and went into recovery at 10:30 a.m. Surgeons made two incisions, one on each side of his torso, through which they went in to remove lesions on both of his lungs and to repair the lung that had collapsed.
"We're just taking it day by day. It's just a matter of healing now," Susan Crawford said. "It's going to be a long process because they're having to do things in stages because of his heart transplant. It just complicates things."
Before Crawford's heart transplant he suffered from congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the needs of body tissues. His first bout with heart problems came in 1986 when he suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery. He had another small heart attack in 1998 but recovered with experimental drugs. For the last two years before the transplant, only 10 percent of his heart was functioning.
Since the transplant Crawford has become a new man; his color has improved along with his overall wellness, Susan Crawford said.
"There is absolutely no way he would have made it this long or through this collapsed lung without his new heart. It was really a blessing," she said.
Judge Crawford will remain in ICU for a few more days, then will be moved into a regular hospital room where he will remain for a short time before he is released, Susan Crawford said.
"The doctors are really afraid of infection," she said. "They have him pretty much isolated to try to avoid infection. The hospital is filled with the flu right now. He can't afford an infection of any kind."
"We've got the lung completely well and a new heart and I don't know what else could happen for a while," she said. "He's going great. He really is. He's got nine lives, I've decided."