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.
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.