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Little did I know that a routine physical in 1987 would be the beginning of my transplant experience. I had been taking routine physicals for years and never imagined that the slightly irregular heartbeat the doctor found this time would be any type of problem.After all, no one in my family had ever had any history of heart disease, my total cholesterol was 115, and my blood pressure was fine.
At the doctor’s suggestion, I scheduled an appointment with a cardiologist just to be sure all was okay. He suggested a “tread mill test” which I passed with flying colors. He pronounced me fit and dismissed the irregular beat. However, I experienced fatigue during the tests and felt something was not right.
My doctor and I agreed a second “tread mill test” in a few weeks might be in order. Unfortunately my concerns were validated when I went into ventricular tachycardia during the test. I was transported by ambulance to St. Luke’s and converted by paddles. Testing revealed cardiomyopathy and an active virus in the heart muscle. With medication, I was able to function on a limited basis until 1990 when the v-tachs became more frequent and I began to experience serious congestive heart failure.
At that time, I was told I had no more than a year to live without a transplant Thankfully, on July 7th of 1990 I received a call that the family of a 19-year-old young man had decided to give others a second chance at life through organ donation.