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Steve Rattray

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, December 16, 2015


                                                     Steve's Grandmother


My story is an unusual one, at least to me it is. In 1989, my brother, at 11 years old, had to have surgery. At that point, our family knew nothing of MH. We didn’t even know it existed. My brother’s surgery went well, but our family doctor at the time told my parents that my brother had a problem coming out of the anesthesia. He said there was a possibility that my brother had a rare condition but that he couldn’t be tested for it at his age so he just shrugged it off.


Four years later, my grandmother was told she needed heart valve replacement surgery. The valve replacement itself was successful, so we were told, but she never awoke. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, my grandparents had required that the surgery be bloodless. The surgeon had no issue performing the surgery that way. A few days went by and my grandmother was essentially comatose. The hospital staff began telling us that she needed blood and that’s why she wasn’t waking up. We didn’t think this was true at all. After 2 weeks of being comatose, my grandmother passed away.


Fast forward another couple of years. My uncle, another son of my grandmother, went in for dental surgery. Within minutes of administering the gas, the dentist noticed the signs of an MH reaction. Thankfully, he knew exactly what was happening and he was prepared. My uncle survived. That’s when the dentist told my uncle to see his doctor because he had MH. Once we learned that this condition was hereditary, more questions came up.


My grandfather immediately contacted the hospital where my grandmother passed and asked for her records. The hospital refused. My parents realized that this was the rare condition they were told that my brother had. If the doctor at that time had explained it to us properly, my grandmother may have survived. My grandfather fought for more than a year to get my grandmother’s records from the hospital, but they continually refused. To this day, we’ve never been able to obtain the records, but my family that was there during the whole ordeal saw the symptoms firsthand and the doctor explained some of the symptoms to them while my grandmother was in recovery. The symptoms my grandmother had matched those attributed to an MH reaction.


Months after my uncle’s experience at the dentist, he and his siblings were tested for MH. All four of them tested positive. Knowing as we do that my brother is also susceptible; I have lived my life as if I am as well. Every time I think of this story, it saddens me. My grandmother was 63 when she died. Had our family doctor warned us about MH when my brother had his surgery, my grandmother may have survived hers. MH is a horrible, horrible disorder. I am so thankful that some 20 years later we now have people and organizations that work hard to educate people about MH. I had to have surgery a year ago, and although it was very difficult to find a hospital that would accept me, I did find one. The surgeon was excellent and was more than accommodating. Things have come a long way since my brother had his surgery in 1989 and I am certainly thankful for it. The picture I have provided is of my grandmother shorty before her surgery. She was absolutely the most amazing person I have ever known and I miss her dearly. 


As told by Steve Rattray

Views and opinions expressed on this page are only those of the individual telling their story. MHAUS has not clinically vetted the content. 

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