Barney Cotton has taken a huge step in what he hopes will be a return to full health and a normal life — and, ultimately, to the sidelines.
In mid-July, UNLV confirmed that Cotton would be stepping down from his duties as offensive coordinator and tight ends coach as he awaited a heart transplant. Three months later, Rebels head coach Tony Sanchez announced on Twitter that Cotton would be undergoing heart transplant surgery Tuesday afternoon.
While there’s been no official word from the coach or the football program, it’s being reported that the surgery, which was performed in Omaha, Neb., was a success.
As for what’s next for the 63-year-old Cotton, who hopes to return to coaching, over the next few months? From the Mayo Clinic:
After you’ve had surgery to place your donor heart, you’ll stay in the intensive care unit (ICU). You’ll generally be moved to a regular hospital room after a few days in the ICU, and you’ll usually remain in the hospital for a week or two. The amount of time you’ll spend in the ICU and in the hospital can vary.
After you leave the hospital, you’ll be closely monitored at your outpatient transplant center by your transplant team. Due to the frequency and intensity of the monitoring, many people stay close by the transplant center for the first three months. Afterward, the follow-up visits are less frequent, and it’s easier to travel back and forth for follow-up visits.
You’ll also be monitored for any signs or symptoms of rejection, such as shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, not urinating as much or weight gain. It’s important to let your transplant team know if you notice any signs or symptoms of rejection or infection.
After your heart transplant, you’ll have several follow-up appointments at the transplant center. You’ll have regular tests, including blood work, echocardiograms, electrocardiograms and heart biopsies.
To determine whether your body is rejecting the new heart, you’ll have frequent heart biopsies in the first few months after heart transplantation, when rejection is most likely to occur. The frequency of necessary biopsies decreases over time.