Randy Travis will remain hospitalized for another two or three weeks to recover from his recent heart problems, a stroke and brain surgery, his doctors said Monday (July 15).
According to the singer's fiancée, his condition is "miles beyond where any of us thought he would be a few days ago," but doctors say it will take months to recover from the stroke.
"As events have occurred, it's like putting pieces of a puzzle together," said Dr. Michael Mack, a cardiac surgeon and medical director of cardiovascular disease at the Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System. "It's been much clearer as to what events transpired and what Mr. Travis' medical condition is."
Mack noted that Travis was placed on life support after being admitted the Baylor McKinney medical center's emergency room in McKinney, Texas, on July 7. He was later transferred to Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas, for additional treatment.
"For the first 48 hours after transfer, he required mechanical devices to support his circulation and his heart," Dr. Mack said. "His heart did respond positively to that, and after a 48-hour period of time, we were able to wean him from that support.
"During this period of time of resuscitation, he suffered a stroke. As a result of that stroke, pressure built up in his brain that required an emergency neurosurgical operation to relieve that pressure."
The surgery, performed Wednesday (July 10), was successful.
"As we're able to put the pieces of the puzzle together, he did suffer an acute viral illness over the past three weeks, but that seems to have tipped over a more chronic condition," the doctor said. "He has what's called idiopathic cardiomyopathy, which means he has scarring of his heart muscle that is causing his heart to be weak and not able to support his circulation without the help of either medical devices of medication."
A biopsy of his heart muscle showed scar tissue but no active infection.
"From the appearance on echocardiograms, which are images of his heart, this is not the appearance of either drugs or alcohol causing the heart condition," Dr. Mack said. "Mr. Travis does have a family history of cardiomyopathy, and it is more likely related to that."
Travis remains in critical condition but has stabilized.
Dr. Gary Erwin, an intensivist at the hospital in Plano, said Travis remains on intravenous medications to help support his heart.
"But we are decreasing the doses of those every day and actually beginning to start him on oral medications which he will use long term to help support his heart," he said. "As a result of his heart condition, acutely, and the stroke, he was put on a ventilator to help him breathe during his hospitalization. He remains on that, but we are decreasing that support daily. He is breathing spontaneously with the help of the ventilator and [we] hope to have him weaned off of that very soon -- breathing completely on his own."
Dr. Erwin said Travis' progress is promising.
"In terms of his stroke, he has responded well to the surgical procedure he had to relieve the pressure in his brain," he said. "We're seeing improvements in brain scans showing decreased swelling of his brain. He is awake and alert -- interacting with his family and friends and beginning to start doing some early physical therapy.
"We do anticipate that he will need to stay here at the Heart Hospital for another two to three weeks to stabilize his heart during which time we will begin aggressive physical therapy. After he is discharged from here, we anticipate transfer to an inpatient facility where he can receive aggressive physical therapy. We anticipate it will take months to recover from the stroke."
Mary Davis, Travis' fiancée, expressed gratitude for the assistance of the physicians and hospital staff, as well as the fans.
"He feels the hands of the doctors and the care of the nurses and the love of his fans," she said. "His friends and family have all been touched by that. He is responding well to voices, and he sees and he understands. He's miles beyond where any of us thought he would be a few days ago.
"It's heartwarming to see that we have such a strong person under there that's willing to fight with us. We all know now that we had greatness to work with. We ask for your continued support. I know that Randy will be so touched by that when he understands the magnitude of it all."