firefighter extinguishes heart failure
Posted on February 21 2015
Rick's heart started to fail in 2013, after having two different pacemakers/defibrillators placed and his heart continued to fail, his cardiologist said those words no family wants to hear, "we've done everything, but there's nothing else we can do." Rick's only chance at life was to have a heart transplant. He was only 58, a retired fire fighter, who spent his entire life saving people's lives, was fighting for his. He was referred to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL in early 2014. After going through the extensive work up, the Transplant team decided he was just too sick and weak for the transplant, they had offered to keep him comfortable in hopes that he may qualify if he got stronger. He was put on extensive medications for 6 months and finally on September 15, 2014 he was placed on the national donor list for a heart. Unfortunately, his heart was uniquely failing so his chances were still not good, he was placed as a 1b. As his condition worsened, he then was living in the hospital as he could not be maintained well at home. We were loosing him. Everyday, he got Weaker and weaker. In December, after the longest stretch of being home, he was admitted back into the hospital in hopes to be home for Christmas to be with his wife, two children, a son in law and his 4 year old grandson. However, he continued to deteriorate. The Transplant team came up with an option that may give him a few extra months to possibly bridge to transplant. They consulted one of Shands hospital's Best cardiothorasic surgeons. He decided he'd try What's called a bi-VAD (right and left sided ventricular device) this would honestly be his best and only option, since a heart wasn't coming fast enough. Rick agreed. That next Monday, on 1/12/15, they brought Rick down to the OR to place the Bi-VAD. Unfortunately he was much sicker than they realized stating he would not have survived the surgery, in a spur the moment decision, he decided to try something that's not commonly used for adults, the highest form of life support, the ECMO Machine. This machine is typically used in the NICU to work as the heart and lungs for preemies while their organs develop. It did the same thing for Rick. The machine pumped his blood ino it, removes the carbon dioxide, and pumps oxygenated blood back into his body, he began to feel much better, his color was back, and all the swelling from his limbs and abdomen were down. In fact he was up and walking 24 hours after the device was placed, being the first for the state of Florida and Shands to be mobile with the ECMO machibe.He was on the machine 6 days before his condition stopped the machine from doing its job.he was just too sick, all physicians agreed it was time To remove the machine and let nature take its course. Rick was so tired. That evening we received the call, the call we had given up hope that we'd ever get, there was a perfect match! On January 19, 2015 he received his heart! A perfect, healthy beautiful heart that was just for him. Today, he is thriving and getting stronger every single day. This truly was the gift of life!