Living with an ICD

University of Michigan Health System promotes ICD peer-mentoring program and a personal connection

Jeanette McDonald - solo blog

Jeanette McDonald’s trip to Yellowstone National Park last September marked the first time in nearly three years this ICD patient was far from medical resources. Today, she is ready to reach out to other patients.

What if you were told you had a condition that required you to have a device implanted in your body to save your life? It would be a hard reality to accept — one filled with uncertainty and fear. But if you met someone who was living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and had a full, happy life, that person might alleviate some of your fears by sharing their story and proving that life isn’t over — just changing to adapt to a new reality.

This is the concept for a unique peer-mentoring program at the University of Michigan Health System designed to help those facing life-changing procedures, such as an ICD.

The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center has paired up with the Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC) Program to pilot peer-mentoring initiatives aimed at helping patients with specific health challenges. The U-M outpatient implantable cardioverter defibrillator clinic has been selected as one of the first five sites to pilot such a program. Continue reading

Erika Laszlo’s story

Living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator

Erika Laszlo 1 320x320Erika Laszlo is a people magnet for many reasons. Some enjoy her bright outlook on life — a breath of fresh air as she enters a room. Others are drawn to her caring persona. And those who know her very well are in awe of what she’s accomplished in her life, in particular the hurdles she’s overcome, as well as her quiet bravery in the face of significant heart health challenges.

Erika, a referring physician liaison at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, has been living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator for 24 years. One of her goals is to help others understand that a healthy, normal life is possible after having an ICD implanted.

Erika shares her story of bravery, acceptance and living a full, happy life.

“I was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect that required bypass surgery when I was two years old, followed by open-heart surgery to correct the defect at age five. I became one of the first babies to survive both surgeries at the hospital where I was being treated. Continue reading