Published: Apr. 2, 2012
Updated: Apr. 2, 2012
On September 1,2007, I was taken to the emergency room because of shortness of breath. It was a day that changed my life forever. Duke University Hospital would become my home for two-and-a-half months.
After an EKG was performed in the emergency room at my local hospital,it appeared I was having a heart attack and was transferred by ambulance to Duke.
The Duke catherization staff was waiting when I arrived, and I was taken immediately in. The catherization showed no major blockages to create the shortness of breath and rapid heart beat. It was diagnosed as a form of myocarditis that later was determined to be giant cell myocarditis.
I was taken to ICU where Joseph Rogers, MD, and his team began treatment with a ballon pump and medicines. I showed improvement the first couple of days, but then my heart began to weaken. On September 9, it was decided my heart needed the help of a ventricular assist device (VAD).
Carmelo Milano, MD, gathered his team on that Sunday night and performed sugery to install left and right exterior VADs connected to a 400-pound machine to assist my heart.
The surgery was a success and at this point I began my wait for a new heart. I thank Dr. Rogers and Dr. Milano for the long hours and all they did for me.
On September 14, I was finally out of the ICU and placed on a step-down wing, and the same day was approved for the transplant list. The wait for the heart had its ups and downs for me and my family, both physically and mentally.
The one constant factor during all this time was the care at Duke University Hospital. It was great!
Dr. Rogers, Dr. Milano, nurses, and all the support staff were like family. They provided not only medical but mental support too. I knew beforehand that Duke had the best Doctors in the country, but now I know they have the best nurses in the country too! They always provided the support I needed, and I will never forget them.
On November 1, I received the call that they had found a heart. It was an exciting time, and I was able to share it with my wife and children before I went to surgery. After a prayer, they came to take me to surgery, and I will always remember all the well wishes from the nurses as I was being pushed down the hall. Once again, Dr. Milano gathered his team, and after surgery I had a new heart.
Everything went well, and on Novenber 19, the nurses sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" as I was being pushed down the hall on my way home.
As I reflect back on everthing that happened, I can see I was truly blessed. I had a great wife and children who were always there. I had family and friends who prayed and supported me in many ways.
I could not have picked a better team of doctors, nurses, and support staff to work with. I will always be grateful to Duke University Hospital. I am also grateful to the donor and his loving family for this great heart.
It is now four-and-a-half years since my transplant, and life is great. I enjoy everyday to it's fullest and appreciate life like never before. I'm back at work, volunteer at Duke Hospital, play golf, and enjoy my three grandchildren who have been born since my transplant.
The heart is great and I give thanks everyday for this gift.