Going from Critical Care to Caring for Others

Barnes-Jewish has been the hospital of choice for Joyce Harris-Fields for decades. Although she was born in Tennessee, she moved to St. Louis when she was three. She had six of her seven children at Barnes-Jewish. Years ago, when she contracted hepatitis C, she came to Barnes-Jewish for care and has been treated frequently at the hospital as the disease has advanced.

When Harris-Fields developed hepatopulmonary syndrome as a result of chronic liver disease caused by the hepatitis C, her care team knew it was time to put her on the liver transplant list. Hepatopulmonary syndrome includes shortness of breath and hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood of the arteries).

“With the onset of hepatopulmonary syndrome, patients are considered a priority for a transplant,” says Pam Thurston, MSN, RN, CCTC, transplant coordinator for Harris-Fields.

On oxygen 24 hours a day, Harris-Fields’ condition was rapidly deteriorating. Fortunately, she was on the transplant list less than a month. Her recovery has been going remarkably well. “I have recovered fairly quickly and Pam was very helpful to me before and after the transplant,” says Harris-Fields.

Harris-Fields is regaining her strength and says she uses oxygen now only when needed. Caring for her two-year-old grandson is now her priority.

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