Living with an LVAD

Scott Reid, 28, finds life with an LVAD is pretty full

Scott Reid and son blog

U-M LVAD patient Scott Reid, along with son Landon and girlfriend Abbie, is “happy to be alive.”

Scott Reid was healthy his entire life. A high school football player and swimmer, he was busy enjoying his 20s and looking forward to what the future might hold. Little did he know he would soon be living with an LVAD (left ventricular assist device).

At age 24, Scott’s health began to change. Feeling tired and rundown, he initially thought he had pneumonia. “I couldn’t make it up six steps,” he recalls. But the diagnosis was not pneumonia. “It was advanced heart failure,” says Scott, still surprised by the diagnosis three years later.

Air lifted from his hometown hospital to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, Scott spent more than two weeks in intensive care as doctors worked to determine the cause of his condition. Finally diagnosed as a viral attack on his heart, Scott was released from the hospital with medication.

Three weeks later, with the medicine proving ineffective, Scott returned to U-M and cardiologist Dr. John Michael Nicklas, who spoke with the young man and his parents about the HeartMate II LVAD (left ventricular assist device) as a recommended next step for his failing heart.

A viable alternative

Over the last 10 years, left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have proved to be a viable alternative to heart transplants or a bridge to patients who are awaiting a heart transplant.

An LVAD can also be used as destination therapy in patients who may not be eligible for a heart transplant, but have advanced heart failure. For destination therapy patients, the pump is implanted permanently as long-term support to extend and improve the patient’s quality of life.

The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is home to one of the world’s largest and most experienced LVAD programs.

Living a good life

Still reeling from the diagnosis, Scott remembers asking Dr. Nicklas, “Is this really possible?” The more he learned about the LVAD, the more amazing it was to him. Three days after his 25th birthday, Scott had open-heart surgery to implant his LVAD. He spent three weeks at U-M, recovering from surgery and learning about his LVAD.

Now part of his life and daily routine, Scott says, “I feel 100 percent normal with my LVAD, minus the wire coming out of my side. I go to sporting events, Tiger games, etc.” According to Dr. Nicklas and the U-M team, “I’m the healthiest person with heart failure they’ve ever seen,” says Scott.

Looking toward the future, Scott says his LVAD is currently considered destination therapy, but eventually he’ll be a candidate for a heart transplant. For now, he says, “I feel great and am happy to be alive. I’m grateful to be able to do all I can do. The life I have is good.”

Take the next step:

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.