Alan Lammle's long-awaited to Colorado is almost upon him.
After almost a year of anticipation and worry, Lammle successfully received a pancreas transplant on March 15. The surgery went well and Lammle is healing, albeit slowly. He is scheduled …
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After almost a year of anticipation and worry, Lammle successfully received a pancreas transplant on March 15. The surgery went well and Lammle is healing, albeit slowly. He is scheduled to have his staples removed on April 8, and he and his wife, Amy Simons, hope to return to their Cottonwood home shortly thereafter.
Lammle left Colorado in April 2015 to be close to the University of Minnesota Medical Center, where he had decided to pursue a transplant. Doctors advised them to move close to the hospital so Lammle wouldn't miss his chance for a new pancreas due to complications like inclement weather or flight delays.
After three months of waiting in Minneapolis, Lammle and Simons decided to explore other venues for the surgery.
“I felt severely upset to be left in a `holding pattern' for almost three months,” Lammle said in an email. “I felt hopeless and depressed and wanted to go home. I decided to go online to find other hospitals and found the University of Wisconsin.”
Lammle and Simons rented a car and drove 270 miles to Madison, Wisconsin, and took up residence at the Restoring Hope Transplant House, a facility designed to provide affordable, comfortable living conditions for people in Lammle and Simons' situation.
“Our whole mission is to serve transplant families like we were served, to pay it forward,” said Cindy Herbst, executive director and co-founder of Restoring Hope. Herbst's family went through a similar experience while a family member waited for a bone marrow transplant.
Usually families at the Restoring Hope house have already been approved for a transplant and have a specified amount of time they will stay. Lammle was still waiting for a pancreas to even be found. After speaking with Simons, Herbst made an exception to their admittance guidelines.
“I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be in Minnesota for so long,” Herbst said. “Not just the expense of it all, but the emotional toll of all that waiting.”
The financial toll hasn't been small either. Simons estimates she and Lammle have spent at least $30,000 since they relocated, not counting medical expenses.
“We have spent more money than we ever thought we would have spent,” Simons said.
The family has held several fundraisers to help cover Lammle's expenses and they are planning more. Even though his surgery is behind him, Lammle still faces more procedures and expenses. He will be on an immunosuppressant diet for the rest of his life and will need airfare to return to Wisconsin four times a year for follow-up appointments.
In addition to barbecues and silent auctions, the family has a fundraising website, https://helphopelive.org/campaign/8797, where donations of auctionable items like event tickets and sports memorabilia are sold. The profits go to the family.
“Our community in Parker has been exceptional,” Simons said, referring to those who helped with finances as well as her “extended family” taking care of her home and dogs.
Lammle's staples will come out on April 8. He and Simons hope to return soon after.
“I miss my puppies and my kids,” he said.
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