LVAD as Destination Therapy
Diagnosis: Sudden Onset Idiopathic Cardiomyopathy
Although living with an LVAD is a big lifestyle change, Kay doesn’t feel like it has slowed him down. Since recovering from surgery, he has returned home to West Point and has enjoyed woodworking, gardening, and exercising daily. He also spends quality time with his 5 children and 16 grandchildren. Kay says, “I didn’t think I’d be able to do these things, but I can and I feel really good. It’s changed my life, but it’s a good life.”
HeartMate II as Destination Therapy
Norm Corbridge celebrates five years on LVAD support this May. Before receiving an LVAD, Norm underwent five bypass surgeries, defibrillator and pacemaker placement, ablation, and cardioversion. Even with all those procedures, Norm’s heart weakened to the point that he couldn’t walk up or down a flight of stairs, and felt worse each day. Norm’s cardiologist referred him to the Utah Artificial Heart Program, and he received a HeartMate II for Destination Therapy on May 23, 2006.
When Norm first returned home from the hospital, he taught his 9-year-old grandson to fetch his batteries when the alarm went off. After the batteries had been replaced, he would look at his grandson and say, “You really saved my life!” Norm and his wife Jo have enjoyed spending the past five years with their family and each other. Since receiving the LVAD, Norm has been able to witness five grandchildren graduate from high school, his granddaughter’s marriage, and sending a grandson on a mission. Norm says, “These are significant milestones when you’re a grandparent. I’m glad I was able to be around for them.”
In addition, Norm and Jo are very active. They go on a date every Saturday night, and also enjoy going to dinner with friends. The couple also loves spending time in their beautiful garden. Married 61 years, Norm says, “I’m grateful that we’ve had this extra time together. We’ve been sweethearts for a long time.”
Temporary Bi-Ventricular Support, Heart Transplant
Diagnosis: Congenital Aortic Valve Disease, Heart Failure
Five years ago, Shaun Coon had been sick for months. But he just thought he was out of shape. He had been coughing, couldn’t sleep, and had trouble breathing with exercise. Shaun had been treated for congenital aortic valve disease his whole life, but hadn’t been to a cardiologist in a few years. When he did, he found out that his aortic valve was leaking blood backward in his heart and would need to be replaced soon.
A few weeks later, Shaun took himself to the Emergency Room at Alta View Hospital due to shortness of breath. He was transported by ambulance to LDS Hospital for aortic valve surgery. At the hospital, doctors found that Shaun’s liver had begun to fail and waited for it to stabilize before going into surgery. However, as they waited, both Shaun’s left and right ventricles began to fail. Shaun needed biventricular support to save his life and bridge him to a heart transplant.
HeartMate II as Bridge to Transplant
“It didn’t seem real.” That’s how AJ Leota and his wife Janet explain this past Fall. One day, the active 26-year-old was enjoying playing sports and lifting weights. Then, seemingly overnight, AJ had difficulty breathing, and felt like his body was shutting down. The prospect of heart failure at such a young age was shocking to the Leotas, who had only been married a few months. Janet says, “We couldn’t believe it was happening to us.”
After having a pacemaker placed in November, the Leotas thought AJ was on the road to recovery. Unfortunately, at his next clinic appointment AJ learned that his heart was not getting better. He was admitted to Intensive Care, and began learning about LVAD support. And then AJ and Janet received yet another surprise: they learned they are expecting a baby girl, due July 2011. Janet says, “It was unreal. We were in the hospital making life and death decisions, and then we found out we have a new life coming.”
On December 11, 2010, AJ received a Heart Mate II LVAD. In less than a month, he was feeling better than he had for a long time. AJ says, “I feel so good, like my life got back to normal. I can do all the things I was doing before the LVAD.” AJ is looking forward to witnessing his daughter’s birth. “Words can’t even explain,” he says. “There have just been so many blessings.”