A Soldier’s Story: Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Care

I originally enlisted in the Army in
2006 I was seventeen years old then I deployed twice to Afghanistan and
Iraq on my 24th birthday I noticed that my breathing was very hard you know I
was having this really bad burning sensation in my my upper stomach area
and I consulted some of the the Army doctors and they told me that I had
dilated cardiomyopathy I was living a normal life one day I
just started getting really sick again I didn’t know what was wrong with me and I just remember sitting there and my family was there and my dad actually
told me he was like the doctors told me that you’re not gonna make it
so when we first met Sean he was already diagnosed with heart failure end-stage
heart failure he was on medical therapy but he was still in extremis quite
symptomatic and we call that stage D heart failure and that means patients
who are we expect to expire from their heart failure within a year they told me
that I was ultimately gonna need a heart transplant and I remember Dr. Adler
coming in there and telling me people can wait here in hospitals a long time
for hearts like we have this device called the LVAD and basically it just
attaches to your left ventricle and it pumps the blood for you and he said
you’ll have a better quality of life Sean is an example but just one example
of patients who are really at death’s door and coming in and getting temporary
heart support and going on at durable support and going from you know hours
from death to walking out of the hospital he calls me was like I have some good news for you, you know he’s like well we have a heart for you for every transplant there might be 30 or 40
people coordinating for one patient so we have this incredible orchestration
to make every single transplant work our team has shared the common goal of
caring for patients they are dedicated to this goal takes a lot of different
people with different skill sets and each one knows that they’re part of a
team but the greater goal is to help people with end-stage heart failure our
heart transplant and ventricular assist device program is clearly become one of
the preeminent programs in the United States and why do I say that well when
we look at the outcomes of our patients they’re among the very best of anywhere in the world
and then when we look at the number of patients that we help service it’s again
among the higher amounts of anywhere and getting to be involved in this process
it’s incredible privilege and opportunity I can’t think of ever doing
anything else and that’s because of people like Sean the heart transplant
has definitely changed everything when I received the care from all the nurses
there every single one of them treated me with utmost respect and when I saw that I was
like there’s no way I can’t become a nurse I could give back being an
advocate for patients it really means everything to me that I’m able to
live life again and just be able to have a family and help them write this little
bike around and just being able to do what dads are able to do with their kids

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