Aha News Celebrates Her 50th Birthday And 9th Anniversary of her Heart Transplant

TUESDAY, September 27, 2022 (American Heart Association News) — At age 26, Melody Hickman of Raleigh, North Carolina, had a crest collapsed. A routine physical revealed a problem with his mitral valve. Open heart surgery was needed to fix it.

open heart surgery

“I knew I’d have to be on a heart-lung machine, and the thought of having the incision really bothered me,” she said, noting that she often wears a V-neck top. “It was a lot to digest. The surgery and recovery went well. Then, 14 years later, the valve had to be replaced again. This meant a second open-heart surgery. After that surgery, he often found his stomach weak and sick. One day feeling hot and sweaty at work, she closed her office door, closed the blinds and threw it in the dustbin. “My legs were so weak that I couldn’t even get up off the floor. could,” she said.

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Donating his organs on 40th birthday

Thinking that it might be a stomach problem, her then-husband took her to a gastroenterologist. In his office, she passed out. I.V. And an ambulance was called. Taken to the hospital, Hickman went into a coma. He had had a heart attack. Intubated and on 24-hour dialysis, she remained unconscious for almost a month. Her prognosis was so bleak that the transplant team approached her family about donating her organs on her 40th birthday.

Doctors made a hole in his heart

His family could not bear the thought of giving up. Instead, they stayed with him, reading the newspaper aloud, singing and telling jokes. While she has no memory of the time, “I believe the sensations I was getting helped me come out of it,” she said. When she finally awoke, her speech was slurred and her body weak. was. He had to learn to walk and use eating utensils. He also had a bad heart. Over the ensuing months, doctors made a hole in his heart, implanted a defibrillator and, later, a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD.

Cardiothoracic surgeon who treated Hickman

Powered by an external battery connected to the device by a cord in Hickman’s abdomen, the LVAD helped his heart pump blood to the rest of his body. LVADs are often used to keep people alive until transplant. Indeed, Hickman was placed on a waiting list for a new heart. “He had heart failure, and the extent of his heart failure was not thought to be reversible,” said Dr. Anton Tatools, the cardiothoracic surgeon who treated Hickman.

where lvad kept him alive

At the same time, it also brought its share of challenges. Hickman felt so weak that he placed a portable toilet next to his bed. He cleaned himself with a washcloth. The heat from the battery pack also bothered her. Her father, a pastor, urged her to ask God for what she wanted more than anything else. The answer, of course, was a new heart. She was reluctant to pray for him because she understood that “for me to live, someone must die.”

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