Heart Transplant Revs Up Energy and Gratitude


 

“I was away working in Atlantic City, and the streets are very wide there. I ran across the street with my husband towards the beach, and when I got to the other side, I was short of breath. That has never happened to me before in my life. So we sat there for a moment and my husband – thank god for him, he’s wonderful – said to me, ‘You should really call the doctor.’”

Lorraine went to the doctor, who diagnosed her with heart failure and rushed her to the hospital to put a pacemaker and a defibrillator into her heart. The implants helped for a few years until her health started to deteriorate. She had to stop working, became progressively short of breath and got very weak. Lorraine’s cardiologist of ten years said he couldn’t do any more to help her, and told her she’d need a heart transplant to survive. He recommended cardiologist Dr. Srinivas Murali at Allegheny Health Network who got her on the transplant wait list for a donor. Because of concerns that she may not survive the wait for a donor heart, she underwent implantation of a left ventricular assist device to support her heart’s function.

Given the gravity of the situation and the procedure, Lorraine met with Dr. Murali and his colleague cardiac surgeon Dr. Stephen Bailey – but also did her research, met with doctors at other hospitals, and ultimately chose AHN. Then she waited, and got to a point where she didn’t think she’d live to see Christmas.

“I was in such final stages that one night I asked my friend Maura to speak for me if something happened. Later that night I got the call that they had a heart for me. That was four years ago.”

Dr. Bailey performed the heart transplant, and Lorraine went home nine days later. She felt so good, she made dinner that night – which surprised her.

“We redid our bedroom thinking I would be using that to recover, but I never laid in that bed after I came home. I had so much energy. It’s like a car that gets a new starter. And I know how grateful I am to the donor family and the donor. Otherwise I would have died. I’ve been given a gift I can never repay.”

To learn more about the Women’s heart care at AHN, please visit: ahn.org/womens-heart-center.

Find out more about organ donation and register today at AHNDonate.org.

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