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Michael B.’s Story

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HEART TRANSPLANT

A Sudden and Jarring Turn for the Worse

“The strange thing about all of this is that I’m an exercise fanatic. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. And I never had a major health issue,” Michael says.

Temple heart transplant patient Michael

Temple heart transplant patient Michael

Nonetheless, when Michael’s doctor pressed her stethoscope to his chest during a routine physical, she heard a sound she didn’t like. In hindsight, there were signs that Michael’s heart wasn’t quite right. A deacon at his church, he had to start taking a break halfway across the church parking lot because he was winded.

After more testing, Michael was admitted to a local hospital and had a pacemaker put in, but his condition continued to worsen. “My heart was only functioning at 20% at one point,” he says.

Doctors determined he needed a heart transplant. A ventricular assist device was implanted to help his heart pump blood while he waited for a transplant. Michael’s condition stabilized, but he developed infection after infection and ended up spending the better part of the next year-and-a-half in the hospital.

“One night at home, I got out of bed and felt so lethargic,” he says. That’s the last he remembers of that night. He was rushed to a local hospital and had to be resuscitated with electrical paddles.

Temple’s Heart Team Instills Confidence

Ultimately, Michael was transferred to Temple University Hospital because of the confidence his doctors had in Temple’s advanced heart failure and transplant team. At Temple, Michael underwent a full evaluation, and it was confirmed that a heart transplant was his best option.

Three weeks after arriving at Temple, on a February night in 2016, a nurse gently woke him at 3 a.m. and whispered, “We got one.” He was quickly wheeled to an operating room, where Yoshiya Toyoda, MD, PhD, performed Michael’s heart transplant. The operation was a success, and Michael was on the road to a new life.

It was very much a family atmosphere. Everyone who had a hand in my care treated me like family.

- Michael

In the days both leading up to and following his transplant, Michael says his doctors and nurses put him at ease. “It was very much a family atmosphere. Everyone who had a hand in my care treated me like family,” he says. “I go back to say hello to them every time I go in for a biopsy.”

Picking Up Where He Left Off

Michael with his pastor at Sharon Baptist Church of Philadelphia.

At 66, Michael is a renewed man. “I go to the gym three times a week, lift weights and walk about 6 miles a week on a treadmill,” he says. “I feel great. Temple gave me my life back. I owe them everything, and I’m trying to pay that debt by taking full advantage of every single day.”

His favorite day of the week remains Sundays, when he can join his church family for a day of worship. If there was one bright spot for him during all that time in the hospital, it was the realization of how vital his presence is to his congregation.

Michael’s hospital room was routinely crowded to capacity with his fellow parishioners. Now that he’s back among them, they’ve taken to referring to him as “The Miracle Man.”

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