Kristina is a Survivor - Thanks to Pigs

Kristina's Story - In Her Own Words

My major health problem surfaced while I was living in Eugene, Oregon in 1991. I had extreme difficulty in breathing and need for rest and sleep. Blood circulation was greatly impaired and I became almost grey in complexion. I could not take our two dogs for a walk without almost passing out. My health was failing and I became a candidate for open heart surgery with an accompanying aortic heart valve replacement.

During this period I became part owner of an educational team called Renaissance Research Associates (RRA) and became a technical writer with my RRA colleagues of the Second Edition of the “Purina Manual”. Luckily I was able to work from home for the most part. I also served as the Laboratory Animal Management Association (LAMA) president. I was very fortunate to have a lot of help from a group of laboratory animal science colleagues during these difficult times of major health problems.

As time went by, my husband and I moved to Madison, Wisconsin in 1992. In discussions with a team of heart specialists the prognosis was not very good. For a prolonged life I was certain that I would need surgery. Many animals had contributed to the development of open heart surgery procedures and the perfection of the heart and lung machine. Pigs became the choice animal model. Many animals also contributed to the training of surgical teams to conduct surgical procedures. The use of the blood thinner Warfarin, which was originally produced as a rat poison, was discovered to reduce blood clotting in humans so that the blood could freely find its way through the aortic heart valve.

November 24, 1992 was the chosen day for my surgery at a hospital in Madison. The surgical team inserted a mechanical heart-valve produced by the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital team. The heart-lung machine was utilized during the surgery. I was released on my 57th birthday, December 6, 1992, and was able to return home to begin a long recovery period. Daily treatment with Warfarin was a must and my blood was frequently tested to make sure it was clotting correctly.

After a long recovery period, I was able to return to my position at the University of Wisconsin - Madison where I focused on training of the people who work with animals to develop lifesaving treatments.

My surgery, developed through animal research, prolonged my life and enabled me to continue to train the next generation of laboratory animal science professionals.

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