Heart failure patients get transplants the same day, fall in love 5 years later

a young man and woman smiling and the headline Against All OddsRooming just yards away from each other in the Inova Heart & Vascular Institute under the care of Inova’s Heart Transplant Program, Taylor and Collin were in a race for their lives in 2011: Taylor’s heart was failing, possibly from a virus, while Collin had been born with a faulty heart and his first transplant was failing decades later. Both were predicted to die within days if donor organs couldn’t be found.

The two clung to life while hooked up to ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machines that supported their heart and lung function. “When you place someone on ECMO, their heart has already died, and this machine is keeping their body alive waiting for another heart to become available. Few people get from needing emergency ECMO to transplantation, just due to the long wait time for organs in the U.S.,” says Dr. Shashank Desai, the Medical Director of Inova’s Heart Failure/Transplant Program. “So the fact that this happened twice in people in the same 24 hours at Inova Fairfax Hospital, who are now together, is more miraculous.” Read their inspiring story arrow

DC area's first heart transplant patient celebrates 30-year transplant anniversary

Patient Eva Baisey with Inova's transplant team

When Eva Baisey received a heart transplant at Inova in 1986, the program was still new and Baisey was in critical need of a donor heart. Today, she is defying all longevity odds and has a warm and friendly relationship with her doctors and nurses at Inova. A Washington Post article introduces Baisey, the story of her transplant and journey to recovery, and illustrates the unique history of heart transplant in our region.

Heart recipient meets his donor's family

D.C. Superior Court Judge Lee Satterfield's life was saved when he received the heart of Chris Canales, a young man from our area who passed away suddently from an asthma attack at age 23. In this moving video, reporter Doreen Gentzler interviews Judge Satterfield and Mr. Canales's family, who were pleased to meet their loved one's heart recipient and find out what else they had in common. Watch the NBC4 video arrow

"The whole thing was a miracle."

Patient story: Diana Plummer

Diana Plummer A diagnosis of cardiomyopathy didn't stop 70-year-old Diana Plummer from being an avid tennis player. But when her tennis partner mentioned that she was more and more "off her game" and seemed to be having trouble with balance – and her husband agreed – Diana knew she might be getting sicker. An appointment with her cardiologist showed that her ejection fraction was poor. Diana was referred to the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute's Advanced Heart Failure Therapy Program.

Over time, Diana became weaker and less coherent. In April 2009 she was placed on the heart transplant list. Over the next several months she spent a lot of time at doctor's appointments and says she "knew that all of my doctors, nurses and transplant team members were giving me the best care. I have great confidence in all of my doctors – I do what they tell me." Diana received her new heart on August 13, 2009, and went home just 11 days later.

Now Diana attends cardiac rehabilitation twice a week and enjoys long walks and spending time with her grandchildren. "The whole thing was a miracle," she says. "Someone upstairs was watching over me."

"[With] these doctors, I was in safe hands."

Patient testimonial: Jean Green

Jean Green was 57 years old when she went to her primary care physician because she didn’t feel well. Seeing signs of an infection, Jean’s doctor prescribed antibiotics and expected her to recover quickly. Surprisingly, three days later Jean’s feet were so swollen they had doubled in size. An echo revealed an ejection fraction of just 13. The infection had taken its toll – Jean was in heart failure.

At first, Jean was treated with heart failure medication. However, after being in and out of the hospital nine times, her physician referred her to the Advanced Heart Failure Program at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute. Hesitant to make the long drive from Southern Maryland, Jean went anyway and “instantly knew this was where I needed to be treated. Everyone there is so wonderful and they all care about each person.” Jean saw Shashank Desai, director of the Heart Failure Program, and was immediately admitted. “Dr. Desai told me I needed a heart transplant and I was sure that if that happened, I would die. Then, I met Dr. Burton and I started to feel that between these two doctors, I was in safe hands,” says Jean.

Dr. Burton told Jean that in order to survive even a few months, she needed a ventricular assist device (VAD). The surgery took place in November and Jean was home in time for Christmas. “I couldn’t believe how this little device Dr. Burton put inside of me made me feel so much better so quickly,” says Jean. Now, Jean is looking forward to the day when her pager goes off and it is her turn to receive a new heart, saying she knows she can feel great and look good again.

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