The long road to heart transplant

U-M patient shares the pain and joy

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Daniel Silverman has faced death more times that he’d like to think about. But through the years — 21 to be exact — and the many heart-related emergencies he’s experienced, he has never once asked: “Why me?”

This 59-year-old heart transplant patient is especially grateful to be alive today, and is thankful for his heart donor and for the cardiovascular team at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. But the road to his successful heart transplant has been a long and difficult one.

From the beginning

Daniel’s heart issues were first discovered during a routine physical in 1995. While living in Chicago, the then 39-year-old was diagnosed with premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) or irregular heartbeats. He had no symptoms at the time and was treated with ACE inhibitors to keep his heart beating at a steady rhythm. Continue reading

LVAD patient gives extra thanks this year

Cara Reischel feels blessed to be able to watch her daughter grow up

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Cara Reischel is giving extra thanks this holiday season … for her husband, Joel, daughter, Cora, and her improved health due to a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that was implanted in February at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center.

Although she admits that being an LVAD patient and getting accustomed to her new device hasn’t always been easy, Cara is a firm believer in taking one day at a time and being thankful for all that life has to offer, especially time with Joel and 11-year-old Cora.

As a baby, Cara was diagnosed with a hole in her heart, which doctors monitored closely. It wasn’t until Cara suffered sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) at age 15 that doctors changed her diagnosis to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a congenital heart muscle disease that can affect people of any age and is a common cause of SCA in young people. Approximately one in 500 to 1,000 young people are diagnosed with the condition. Continue reading

Hope for advanced heart failure patients

Studies aim to improve quality of life

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Tremendous advancements have been made since the first U.S. human heart transplant was performed in 1968. Today, promising new studies involving devices and procedures are giving hope to the 5.1 million advanced heart failure patients living in the U.S.

Several studies currently being conducted by physicians, researchers and scientists at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center are building on the success of our Heart Failure Program. These include:

  • MOMENTUM III: This study compares the HeartMate III heart pump with an older version (HeartMate II) to evaluate whether a smaller pump design with new features will benefit patients with advanced stages of heart failure. The heart pump is intended as a bridge to heart transplantation or as destination therapy.
  • CTSN Cell Therapy LVAD Trial II: This study will evaluate the use of stems cells that are injected into the patient’s heart at the time of receiving a Left Ventricle Assist Device (LVAD). This study will determine if stem cells improve the function of the heart.

Continue reading

LVAD patient is living life in “drive”

Sharon Gillon enjoys renewed energy, thanks to a left ventricular assist device

 

Sharon Gillon 2[1]Sharon Gillon might not be test-driving cars anymore, as she did during her career with Chrysler Corporation, but the 73-year-old is raring to go after having a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted in 2013. Sharon says the device has made a remarkable difference in her quality of life, which she now realizes began to decline nearly 15 years ago.

“I noticed some breathing issues in 2000 or possibly even before that, but I didn’t realize anything was wrong,” she says.

Sharon’s health continued to decline for the next few years when she was diagnosed with an arrhythmia, which led to a pacemaker, followed by a pacemaker/defibrillator.

When her breathing worsened and required hospitalization, Sharon’s doctors recommended she be taken by ambulance to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. After extensive testing, the CVC team, led by Dr. Francis Pagani, determined that Sharon’s failing heart could be strengthened with the assistance of an LVAD. Continue reading

LVAD patient pays it forward

Educating patients and first responders is his mission

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Furman Dillard wants to educate others about LVADs, using his own LVAD to give first-hand demonstrations.

Furman Dillard of Ann Arbor is thankful to the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular team for giving him a second chance at life.

Furman’s heart issues began in 2000 when he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. His doctor recommended he be seen at the Frankel CVC, where it was determined he needed a defibrillator due to an irregular heartbeat. Then, in 2010, Furman suffered a series of strokes and, ultimately, organ failure. His only option was a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), which was implanted by Dr. Francis Pagani in 2012. Since the surgery, Furman is walking, working out, cooking and feeling fortunate to be alive.

But that’s not all … Continue reading

Mitral valve repair vs replacement

“Repair is always better”

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U-M patient Perry Katsiskas believes she made the right decision in choosing to have her mitral valve repaired versus a future replacement.

Panorea (Perry) Katsiskas’ mitral valve disease didn’t slow her down. A daily exerciser, she lived an active life, relatively free of symptoms. But Perry, like many of the millions of Americans diagnosed with a degenerative version of the disease, was faced with a decision: mitral valve repair vs replacement. In other words, should she have her mitral valve repaired now or wait until her condition required complete valve replacement?

Under the care and counsel of Dr. Francis D. Pagani, surgical director of the U-M Adult Heart Transplant Program and director of the Center for Circulatory Support, Perry chose to have her valve repaired. “Dr. Pagani explained that if and when I experienced symptoms, it would likely be too late,” she says.

“I came in feeling healthy, had surgery and went home feeling healthier,” says Perry. “I felt Dr. Pagani cared about me and my outcome. And the outcome speaks for itself. Early intervention saved the quality of my life.” Continue reading