Heart Transplant after LVAD
In 2000, I was struggling with shortness of breath and feeling really tired. I would be walking around and realize that I couldn’t catch my breath. I went to my local doctor and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Even though I was having these problems, this diagnosis was a big shock.
My health began to rapidly decline and my doctor referred me to Emory. I was given a pacemaker and then shortly thereafter I was upgraded to another pacemaker. But I kept getting worse, so I was placed on the transplant list.
A few months later I got really sick and was admitted to Emory Hospital. This was when I was offered the option of trying the LVAD system.
I was a little skeptical but it was clear to me that the pacemaker option wasn’t working that well. Dr. Vega came in and explained the LVAD system really well. He told me that, “The LVAD would take over the blood pumping for the left side of the heart,” and he gave me the sense that he really knew what he was talking about and that he really cared about my health. My wife and I discussed the LVAD option for about a day before deciding to go ahead and try it out.
After the LVAD, I felt like my old self. I came home and started doing things that I thought I would never be able to do again.
Living with the device was a bit strange at first. I had to get used to the battery pack and the power supply. At first, I was afraid to unplug it and move around the house, but after a little while I got more comfortable with it and it became really easy to use.
8 months later, Dr. Vega upgraded me back onto the transplant list. A week after that, I got a call at 2 o’clock in the morning. When the phone rang, I thought I was dreaming and I didn’t even pick it up. The answering service picked up the call and called me back. They told me to call Emory immediately.
2 hours later, my wife and I showed up at Emory Hospital for my heart transplant. I had known that the day was going to come, but I was still really scared.
Now, it has been almost 2 years since my heart transplant. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about the operation and my new heart. I feel as though I have a new outlook on life. My energy level is good and I am right on track. I watch my diet and exercise regularly.
I am really thankful for the care that I received at Emory. The whole time I was there, I got the feeling that this place is not just a hospital but that the people here they actually care about the patient as an individual. I am really happy with the results and the care that I received.