Heart transplants: The ultimate gift of life

David Parker inspires others in the fight for their life

Since 1984, The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center Heart Transplant Program has performed more than 900 heart transplants, as well as implanting more than 500 ventricular assist devices (VADs) — most as a way to “bridge” patients to transplant. The U-M team also provides the multidisciplinary care required for complex transplant patients and includes specialists in advanced circulatory support, cardiac critical care, nutrition and social work.

This closely integrated team of cardiac transplant surgeons and transplant cardiologists is highly skilled in treating and implanting donor hearts in patients with the most urgent cardiac needs. U-M’s high volume, vast experience and active research program makes it a leader in heart transplant surgeries.

U-M patient David Parker received a new heart in December 2012. Today, he is living a full, active life that includes walking three miles, weight training and swimming most days of the week.

David shares his story of courage and his path back to living …

David Parker and his wife, Carol

David Parker and his wife, Carol

“My name is David Parker. I am 64 years old and thankful to the University of Michigan cardiac team for my new life. I first became ill in 2001. I started with an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, or afib. I was in and out of the hospital getting ‘cardioverted,’ a procedure in which the heart is shocked back into normal sinus rhythm. After a while, the doctors saw that this was not going to work. So I went to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, where Dr. Hakan Oral and his team performed three ablations. This helped for a period of time, but the afib eventually returned.

I was getting weaker and weaker as time passed. My doctors decided the only thing that would work was a heart transplant. I was put into the hospital to try to build up my strength and was put on the heart transplant list. At this time, my organs were starting to shut down and I was told I was too sick for a heart transplant. My only other option was to have a left ventricle assist device (LVAD) inserted. An LVAD is an electrical pump that attaches to the heart and pumps blood throughout the body. With the LVAD surgery, performed by Dr. Jonathan Haft, my organs started improving. I had the LVAD for 11 months, running on batteries during the day and plugged into a wall outlet at night. During that time, I was put back on the heart transplant list. Continue reading

Big Pains in the Little Leagues — Preventing and Treating Little League Shoulder

Shoulder injuries in young baseball players are so common, there’s even a condition called Little LLS.fwLeague Shoulder, or proximal humeral epiphysitis. Little League Shoulder is an overuse injury that involves a fracture to the growth plate near the shoulder. We see it most frequently in kids ages 11 to 16. Young athletes who play baseball year-round are most at risk for this injury.

Symptoms of Little League Shoulder are pain in the shoulder when throwing. The pain gets better with rest. Anyone throwing overhead can get this condition, but it is most common among young pitchers. Treatment involves something many young athletes don’t want to hear — rest. Without proper treatment, the injury can get worse and may even cause permanent injury. In addition to rest, we also recommend icing the shoulder. The period of rest depends on each individual. Continue reading

Improving care through clinical trials

Where would we be without medical advances? Think about medical care 100 years ago. Since then, there’s been an explosion in vaccine development, antibiotics, surgical techniques, medical devices and discovery of medications to treat and control disease. You can look at any medical specialty and ClinicalTrial.fwsee the advances that have been made. Clinical trials represent our era’s research frontier for medical advances.

Why are clinical trials so important?  It’s how we move forward in health care. We can discover what works and what doesn’t. Clinical trials save and improve lives.

April is Cancer Control month and one of the goals of cancer control is improving the care for cancer patients. How is this accomplished?  Advancements in cancer treatment happen through clinical research. The milestones that have been made over the last 40 years in cancer care are due to research and a patient’s willingness to participate.

These are just a few of the advancements that have been made over the last four decades:

  • The 5-year survival rate for all childhood cancer combined is now approximately 81%, compared to 62% in 1975
  • 5-year survival for adults is now 68% compared to 50% in 1975
  • Approval of cancer vaccines: The FDA Continue reading

The best fish to eat for heart health

Keep up with fish dinners, even after Lent


Oily fish, such as salmon, has the highest amounts of omega-3, or good fats.

Friday night fish fries may end after Lent, but that doesn’t mean your commitment to eating fish on Fridays has to stop …

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week (particularly fatty, or oily, fish) to reduce the risk of death from heart disease and stroke. So why not continue a good thing by keeping fish on your Friday menu?

And, remember, the best fish to eat for heart health is oily fish. Here’s why:

While all fish provide protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and other oily fish — sardines, tuna, mackerel, bluefish, rainbow trout and herring — have the highest amounts. These “good fats” benefit the hearts of healthy people, and those who have, or are at high risk for, cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias), which can lead to sudden death. Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lower blood pressure. Continue reading

When are biopsies important in detecting kidney cancer?

kidney cancermCancerPartner sat down recently with Khaled S. Hafez, M.D., a surgeon and associate professor of urology, to discuss how kidney cancer is detected and the role biopsies play.

mCancerPartner: What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?

Dr. Hafez: The three symptoms that normally indicate kidney cancer are pain in the abdomen, blood in the urine and a mass, or growth, in the side. But how physicians find kidney cancer has changed in recent years. Today, most kidney cancer is found accidently, before the symptoms Continue reading

Your voice is trying to tell you something — if you’d only listen!

U-M vocal health doctor gives tips for World Voice Day & beyond

Your voice is trying to tell you something

What is your voice telling you?

Most of us don’t give our voices a second thought, even though we use them every day to talk, sing, shout, laugh, hum or scream.

But Norman Hogikyan, M.D., spends every day thinking about voices: those of his patients.

As director of the U-M Vocal Health Center, he treats everyone from teachers to opera singers for ailments that affect their speaking and singing ability. Too many people abuse their voices, he says, or fail to recognize changes in their voice that actually signal some greater danger.

This week, in honor of World Voice Day, he offers top tips and other information to help us all get educated about vocal health.

Continue reading