I was diagnosed with idiopathic cardiomyopathy at the age of 28. I learned to adjust my life to accommodate my heart
and eventually deteriorated to a point to where in 1998 I had to have a mechanical aortic valve replacement and also repair done on an aneurism on my aorta. Since that time, my life improved for a time then I began to decline at a rather steady pace. I had a great cardiologist in the beginning, but after I relocated, the quality of my care diminished drastically. I say this because after seeing this cardiologist for several years, I had gone in for an appointment and rather than treat me, he sent me home. One month later, I collapsed at work and the following week I was given an ICD. Approximately one year later, I was readmitted to the hospital for a second ICD with an additional lead. I share this story for those who are facing what seems to be a dead end. Trust me, if you insist on the best of care, it will pay off. I have learned that you have to be your own advocate. I sought out my current cardiologist, and the first thing he did was admit me to the hospital and proceed with a right heart cath and an aggressive medication program. After approximately two years, he sat with my wife and me, and explained that he had exhausted all avenues and that I should consider an LVAD and/or transplant and referred me to University of Utah Hospital. We went to Salt Lake on April 23, 2014. The cardiologist admitted me within 10 minutes of seeing me in his office, and on May 16, 2014 I went into surgery and received the HeartMate ll. I can tell you that I have never felt this good in my whole life. I am able to do more now than I have in the past several years. HeartMate ll has truly been a blessing for me. I am on the transplant list now but will cross that bridge when I get to it.
I was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy in 1996 after having pneumonia. I had great cardiologists who kept me alive
until the next technology was developed. I received a bi-ventricular pacemaker in 2001 and continued to do well until 2008 when my heart would not stay in rhythm, which created a further and further deterioration of my heart. Ablations were not successful, so the only alternative was the LVAD, so I entered into the Thoratec trial for destination therapy and received my LVAD, my life-saving device. Nearly six years after my LVAD implant, I am leading an active, vibrant, healthy lifestyle at the age of 79. The decision to receive the LVAD saved my life and restored the quality of my life. I continue to work in my own business on a daily basis, I maintain my home, lawn and garden. And, I have even been skiing since my LVAD. I volunteer in many capacities at my church, and my wife, Kathy, and I travel all over the country both by car and by air. We recently returned from our second trip this year to FL to visit our son and family. Daily I praise God for the gift of this miracle of modern technology. I am also grateful to Dr. Ely El Banayosy and Dr. John Boehmer at Hershey, along with the fantastic and committed staff of the Heart and Vascular Institute for giving me this new life. Thank you, Thoratec, for your dedication to the research and development in the area of Mechanical Circulatory Support. It is wonderful to enjoy such a quality of life at the age of 79! My wife and I try to "give back" as we feel so blessed to be part of this LVAD world, so we created the LVAD Recipients Facebook page for the purpose of sharing about the LVAD's therapy and create a forum for online support for patients, families and caregivers as well as for education. Thousands of people from all over the world visit this Facebook page on a regular basis to share their experience. We also meet with potential LVAD candidates to share and encourage those recipients and families who are contemplating this therapy.
God’s way of preparing me for my LVAD journey began years ago when I met my wife Trish at church camp at the tender
age of 13 and she was 14. Older women make my heart go pitter-pat. Our first meeting involved a game of passing a penny back and forth between our knees as an icebreaker. No funny business; it was, after all, church camp. Trish went home and declared she was in love. I’m fairly certain it was the knobby knees that got to her. We still have that penny. At 16, I was diagnosed with heart disease. At 19, we discussed marriage and with no reservations, we tied the knot. I had my first MI at 38 years old. I had another 9 months later. I had the third a few years later, received a pacemaker, along the way learning how to survive in the ICU, and practicing the fine art of waiting for the next event to occur. At last count, I had 10 stents. My two year anniversary of life with the HeartMate II arrived in September, and it’s a reason for celebration and a time of reflection. If you ask me for the most important thing I can tell you about the last two years, it’s this: Nothing prepares you for how your life will change. I expected and hoped for some things to change. I hoped to feel better. I hoped my health might improve. I hoped to have more quality time with my family and loved ones. I hoped the HeartMate II would give me more time to do all the things I want to do. All of this came true for me. The HeartMate II has allowed my heart to “rest.” It has taken over the hard work and the heart has “healed” in the sense that my ejection fraction has improved significantly and the condition of my heart has “improved.” Those are relative terms, I know, but nevertheless, seen as positive changes. I have more freedom than I’ve had in years and it has certainly changed my outlook on life. I returned to my job full time, I work every day, I live a full life, and even continue to assist an elderly friend with household chores and groceries, working at my church, keeping up with three kids, three grandkids, and Trish, the Wonder Woman of my dreams. I keep that penny handy.
My heart failure was drug induced by Adriamycin, which I received during chemotherapy for breast cancer. The heart failure
was immediate after chemotherapy and mastectomy in 2012. I tried medication for six months and was in and out of the hospital four times in 2012. In February 2013, I was implanted with the HeartMate II. It is a miracle that restores quality of life. There are few limitations and inconvenience but one can be productive once again.
In 2002 all my energy went south in more ways than one and it happened over night. Upon analysis it was determined I
had caught a virus and the ventricles in my hear enlarged. Medication, including Coreg for blood pressure was prescribed. I didn't tolerate the Coreg too well and spent the next few months doing face plants each time I got up off the chair. In 2003 a Guidant three wire pacemaker was installed followed every two and a half years by another one. In 2007 I received a Boston Scientific pacemaker and it lasted until 2013. During this time, my ejection factor (EF) had stabilized at around 30% and I could function fairly well. In the spring of 2012, the downward spiral of my EF occurred. I landed in the hospital a couple of times and then in July 2012, my cardiologist said it was time to go to Salt Lake City for an LVAD. Best bit of medical advice I ever had. Like the tee shirts say "Life is Good.' My Doctor told me in July of 2012 that he had done all the "voodoo" he could with medicine, exercise and diet, and my possibilities were shrinking daily. However, he had one more secret up his sleeve. It was the HeartMate ll. We went to Salt Lake City and the University of Utah Medical Center for analysis and I received my unit the evening of August 1, 2012. Change was evident the next the very next morning. I couldn't believe the transition just from one day to the next. My ejection factor went from 9% to thru the roof. I could walk, talk and act very much like a human being, and not a walking, falling zombie. My learning curve went up, up, up as did my exercise level, being able to recall what was going on and my Granddaughter said I now have a new birthday and I guess she is right. Since then, I've become a volunteer, started studying how to paint with watercolor and working with designing and carving gourds. I joined the local gym and workout five days a week. I ride my bicycle about four miles a day, walk with my wife for a mile or more and volunteer a couple of days a week. Other than when I change out from shore power to batteries I don't think about this thing too much. So far we've had a couple of extra Christmases and I'll get to watch my Grandson get his Eagle Scout award and graduate high school this spring. I've got a two year old Great Grandson and I'm going to get to know this little guy. Without the HeartMate ll it just wouldn't have happened. There is a burning need to pay it forward about these advancements and if given a chance I'll talk to anyone about my success. Thanks for the future and thanks for the memories.
I feel that I am able to function with complete capability as the strong individual I was in my early thirties. On February
2, 2014, I will reach my 70th birthday and with recommended exercise and a healthy, controlled diet, my outlook in life is for many, many more years of life to look forward to. The people of Thoratec who have made this all possible and the skilled hands at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, I say thank you, as today my life is plentyful and I have resumed all my physical activities. I thank you all for restoring my ongoing activities and my life.
As snowbirds, we arrived at our wintering grounds in November. I caught what I thought was a cold, but it wouldn't go
away. After several trips to the doctors, I got an accurate diagnosis: Congestive Heart Failure. Idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Eventually, I was evaluated for and implanted with the HeartMate II. At this time, I still hold the record for the shortest period of time between surgery and discharg: Eight Days! And I walked, by myself, from ICU to the step down unit. I couldn't have done that earlier. I can unequivocally say that the HeartMate II has given me my life back. I can, and do, everything and anything I want. My husband says I even do some things I shouldn't. I went elk hunting with him three weeks after surgery, and started cardiac rehab at four weeks after surgery. I am currently helping with the remodel of a house. I do the cooking, cleaning andlaundry, and my normal every day routines are just that again and not something that takes all day-or all week-to accomplish with many rest periods in-between. I was recently asked, "on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 the best, how did you feel before receiving the Heartmate II?" My response? "2.5." "How do you feel after receiving your Heartmate II?" My response? "11!" The Heartmate II is an avenue worth pursuing for anyone whose quality of life has deteriorated due to heart failure. Whether using the LVAD as destination therapy or as a bridge to transplant, the Heartmate II is worth serious consideration.
I was ready for my own funeral until the HeartMate II was installed at University of Minnesota. March 28, 2011 is my
rebirth date with my LVAD. Since I received my HeartMate II, it has given me the opportunity to witness my daughter's graduation from college plus two and a half years of everyday life enjoyments. I swing golf clubs no better than before surgery but if I get to live another 40 years, I will still stink on the course. I want to say thanks to my caregiver team, parents, brother and sister, and daughter.. I still operate my four-wheeler and snowmobile, both slower and safer.
Before my HeartMate II, I knew my life wasn't going to be good be honest with you. It was so hard not to be able do
to what I used to do. I couldn't walk very far at all without being short of breath. When my doctor told me about the LVAD, my family said "what have you got to lose?" so I said okay, let's do this. I received my HeartMate II In May 2011 and I must admit: it was the best decision I could have made. I could feel the change immediately, and now I can walk long distances without being short of breath. I finally got my life back. I am not going to tell you it was a easy road but I will tell you that I am living my life the way I want to live. Without HeartMate II, I wouldn't be here. If you need one, get it. LIke they say: "what have you got to lose?"
I knew my heart failure was slowly getting worse over the past year and an LVAD was my only option to be able to keep
going. I did a lot of research from different hospitals and the Thoratec site to learn about the HeartMate II. I told my oldest son that no way was I going to run on batteries for the rest of my life and he told me that was my decision to make. But after much thought and discussion with family and friends, I decided I want to be around for our 50th wedding anniversary in 2016. Also, in late September 2011 my son and future wife informed us that we would be grandparents for the first time and I really did not feel I would be around to see the baby. After several tests and talking to several doctors, we had a meeting with a cardiologist and he told my wife and me that they felt that I had a small window of opportunity before my organs started to get affected because of the low blood supply. I had the HeartMate II implanted and I am now three months and 3 weeks out and doing much better - my stamina and breathing have really increased. With my HeartMate II, we were in the delivery room and saw our grandson born. What a thrill!