Heart device gives patient freedom during wait for heart transplant

Michael Richards feels “lucky” to be alive after heart failure diagnosis

Michael Richards, 25, has a total artificial heart controlled by wearable technology, giving him the freedom to visit Ann Arbor's Hands On Museum with his 2-year-old daughter.

“I was a nervous wreck,” says Michael Richards, Jr., 25, about the first time he and his family changed the battery for the backpack-sized device that controls his heart.

When most people hear “wearable technology,” they think of fitness trackers and enhanced glasses. The total artificial heart works on a higher level — allowing heart patients independence as they wait for a heart transplant.

The 14-pound Freedom® Driver, which Richards carries in a backpack, powers the total artificial heart with precisely calibrated pulses of air. The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the only Michigan heart program to send patients home with the wearable technology. Continue reading

Teen’s reaction after heart transplant goes viral

Trevor Sullivan’s mother hadn’t even meant to videotape her son’s emotional awakening after heart transplant surgery. She’d intended to take a photo with her mobile phone, but accidentally set it on video, instead.

Trevor, 15, said it was OK. He wanted to tell friends and family following his medical journey on Facebook that he felt “amazing” after 10 months on a transplant waiting list. “I’m so happy,” he said tearfully. “I’ve been waiting so long…I can breathe again. I can talk.”

The Southfield, Mich., family posted the touching video online, and it was shared on the Facebook site for Gift of Life Michigan. The video went viral from there, attracting upwards of 1.7 million views and international media coverage including nods from CNN, the Today show and the Washington Post.

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U-M LVAD patient lives a full life while awaiting heart transplant

Catching up with LaVishia McDonald about life with a left ventricular assist device

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LaVishia McDonald had already given birth to five children, so when her sixth child was born in 2008, she knew her symptoms and extreme fatigue weren’t normal. “I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t breathe. My legs were swollen. I knew something was very wrong,” she remembers.

When her condition didn’t improve, LaVishia’s primary doctor, who suspected a heart condition, recommended she be seen at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Continue reading

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

Playing a new tune after heart failure and heart transplant (VIDEO)

Scot Cannell shares his journey through heart failure at U-M

Band teacher Scot Cannell, 50, and his cardiologists at the University of Michigan would come up with a solution at each low point in treating his heart disease:  an implantable cardiac defibrillator to keep his heart rhythm in check, then a left ventricular assist device to support his weakened heart.

In life and in Cannell’s world of music, hitting the high notes often takes hard work. Three years after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, Cannell’s best option for living was a heart transplant.

“I had no family history of heart disease and I found myself in need of a new heart,” says Cannell, of Saline, Mich., a husband and father of three. “I dealt with it all with great support and humor whenever we could.

“The scariest part was hearing during the transplant evaluation that I had end stage heart failure. A nurse could see it upset me and she put a hand on my shoulder and told me, ‘End stage heart disease is just what it’s called. It doesn’t mean the end is here.’ ” Continue reading

Living with an LVAD

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

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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. Continue reading