Having been fairly healthy throughout his life, Kevin and his family faced increasing hardships after he experienced not one, but three heart attacks by age 57. After his fourth heart attack, Kevin came to Abbott Northwestern Hospital where he met Dr. Kasia Hryniewicz and learned just how damaged his heart had become.
Kevin’s fourth heart attack was the most serious kind, referred to as STEMI, and it left his heart damaged and unable to effectively pump blood throughout his body. He needed a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a mechanical pump that is implanted inside the chest to help a weakened heart pump blood.
For one year Kevin’s LVAD worked well, but after catching an infection his only option left was waiting for a donor to receive a heart transplant. Kevin soon received a call from a research coordinator at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation about a new research study for patients like him in need of a heart transplant.
“There was just never a question in my mind,” said Kevin. “Why wouldn’t I participate in research? I want to do something to help. I’m 57 now, so I’m at a stage in life where I’m looking to contribute in any way I can. I agreed wholeheartedly to participate.”
Nobody mentioned a timeline for the research study or how quickly a heart would become available for Kevin, but within a week he received the call that they’d found a heart and could proceed with the transplant.
The team at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) included Drs. Karol Mudy, Bassam Shukrallah, and Benjamin Sun, all cardiac surgeons who were ready to work through Kevin’s case. He became the second patient at MHIF, and in the state, to receive a heart through a donation after circulatory death (DCD) research study utilizing the “Heart-in-a-Box” technology, which allows a heart to reanimate, recover and continually beat in a self-contained module while waiting to be transplanted.
Kevin’s transplant was a resounding success, and he couldn’t be more grateful for his new heart. He has big plans ahead, including rollerblading with the cardiologist, Dr. Hryniewicz, who helped him on this journey to the LVAD and to the research study that found him a new heart and a new lease on life.
Any Gift, Big or Small, has a Significant Impact on People’s Lives