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Considering All Options for Heart Failure

September 13, 2013

Lynn Gullick never suspected she had heart disease until she could no longer ignore her symptoms. After being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, she underwent a heart transplant. Today she "feels great," and is grateful to have a new life ahead of her.

Years ago, Lynn Gullick, a 59-year-old attorney and mother, starting having what she described as “weird symptoms” — persistent cough, weight gain, and shortness of breath. She never guessed these symptoms had to do with her heart, but when she went to the doctor, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

Referred by Cleveland Clinic to Christopher O’Connor, MD, a Duke heart failure specialist, Gullick began medical therapy. Imaging showed her condition worsening, and she was evaluated for a heart transplant by Duke’s Joseph Rogers, MD.

Not ready for surgery, Gullick wanted other options. A team of Duke heart specialists worked successfully to manage her heart failure for six years. “My doctors would tell me that I looked so good, but my heart looked so bad,” she says. Finally, after three hospitalizations in as many weeks, Gullick agreed to be listed for a heart transplant. Seven days later, Carmelo Milano, MD, a Duke heart surgeon, gave Gullick a new heart.

Duke’s approach meant Gullick was given treatment options for her failing heart — and to her, that meant a lot. When it became clear that transplant became her only option, she was ready.

Within months of her surgery, Gullick went back to work and even resumed one of her favorite pastimes —running. “I feel great,” she says. “I have a lot to live for. I am certainly blessed to have this new life and am so very grateful to everyone at Duke and to my wonderful family.” She continues to receive follow-up care at Duke.

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