Hoping for a new heart, Rosencrans lives for his family
The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Flanked by his family: Courtney Rosencrans of Guilderland, shown here with his wife and daughter, looks forward to the day when he has enough energy to go for a run or a bike ride again. Meanwhile, it is nerve-wracking — and expensive — to wait for a heart to become available for transplant. Rosencrans may be waiting for as much as a year.
GUILDERLAND — Courtney Rosencrans has a lot to live for — Jenn, his wife of three years, and their daughter, Adelynn, who just turned 21 months. So he hopes that he will receive the call soon, letting him know that there is a heart for him, ready for transplant.
Meanwhile, while he and his family wait, they struggle with bills that never stop coming; an upcoming fundraiser at the Guilderland Elks Lodge on Nov. 19 will help to offset some of the costs.
Rosencrans was born with multiple heart defects and had his first surgery at the age of five months and another at five years. Between the ages of 11 and 20, he had 22 cardioversions — procedures that jolt the heart into proper rhythm with electricity. He had a pacemaker put in when he was 20, had an operation to replace it every five years, and then had the device replaced a couple of years ago with a stronger type that would control both chambers of the heart. He has been hospitalized too many times to count, for blood clots from his heart’s failure to pump right.
Yet Rosencrans was able to work for almost 17 years as a customer service manager with the Albany Parking Authority until recently, when he went on disability. Jenn Rosencrans works full-time, in the accounting office of an automotive dealer. “I feel awful,” her husband said, “because she comes home and has to take care of two people, me and the baby.”
His health issues worsened in the fall of 2015 when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He traveled with his family to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he was placed on the transplant list. Rosencrans is high on the list — with his 1-B status, only patients who are currently hospitalized are higher — because of his need for around-the-clock delivery of medicines through an intravenous drip.
One medicine is a diuretic that keeps his abdomen from filling with fluid. At one point over the last year, he says, he needed to have 10 liters removed from his abdomen at one go; it is hard to imagine that amount of fluid in one place on his thin frame. The diuretic — which he will be able to stop taking after he receives a heart — keeps him “extremely thirsty” all the time. “You get to the point where it removes the fluid from your veins,” he said.
“They expect a full recovery once he has the transplant,” said his mother, Rita Rosencrans. She and her husband, William Rosencrans, help out a great deal, taking care of their granddaughter and driving their son to many of his appointments. Courtney Rosencrans and his wife live in their own home in Guilderland, separate from his parents, who also live in town.
“The doctors tell me that they hope it will be within a year,” Courtney Rosencrans said of his timetable for getting the lifesaving operation. It is impossible to know how many people are in front of him in line.
The family’s bags are always packed. Once they do get the call, they will need to get to Boston within four hours, his mother said. They have the telephone number of one pilot who volunteers with Angel Flights, a not-for-profit organization that pairs patients who need to get to distant medical appointments with volunteer pilots who fly them there. If that pilot is not available when the Rosencranses happen to be called, they will drive there, but that option can sometimes take four hours, depending on traffic.
Rosencrans has health insurance, but the insurance payments are “outrageous every month,” his mother said. Then there are the $500 copays every time he goes to the hospital; the $250 charges for draining fluid from his abdomen; part of the cost of having a nurse visit his home once a week; and the many medications he must take, including one with a $500 copay; and the costs associated with the many trips to Boston.
“I just want to get back to the point where I could do things,” Rosencrans said simply.
Until his latest setback last fall, he was running about three miles, four times a week.
“He’s the strongest man I know,” said his wife, Jenn Rosencrans.
Asked what keeps him strong as he waits for a heart, Rosencrans said, “My family,” before breaking down in tears and falling silent.
The fundraiser on Nov. 19 at 3867 Carman Rd. will feature a rigatoni and meatball dinner and will run from 1 to 6 p.m. More than 65 items will be raffled, including a 32-inch smart TV, a DVD recorder, a Coleman tailgate grill with chairs, a Pandora bracelet, and baskets loaded with gift certificates from local shops.
Rita Rosencrans said of the donated raffle items, “People have been very generous.”
Tickets are available at the Albany Beverage at 3899 Carman Rd. in Guilderland. Tax-deductible donations for transplant-related expenses can also be made online at the website helphopelive.org (search for Courtney Rosencrans) or by calling the not-for-profit organization at 800-642-8399.