Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Denis's Story

Two heart attacks — my first one was in 1988 and the second in 1991 — severely damaged my heart muscle. So began a journey to live with permanent heart disease and blocked arteries.
Two years later and after many extensive tests, the University of Alberta Hospital Cardiology Department discovered that my arteries, which had been opened up by angioplasty, were becoming blocked again.

In 1993, I required quadruple bypass surgery to replace the four damaged arteries with the arteries taken from my legs. This surgery could never repair the damage to my heart, but it allowed my heart to function better. My damaged heart would continue to fail and in 2002 the heart rhythm became so erratic that a pacemaker-defibrillator was surgically implanted to assist my heart.
In 2003 after taking a VO2 test, it was very clear a new heart was needed and I was placed on the transplant waiting list.

In August 2003 I received my new heart; thanks to a donor whom I will never know, but will always be a special individual to me.

The transplant brings a completely new perspective to a recipient. As I was healing from the surgery, there were challenges that served to remind me of the opportunity I had been given in my new life — the opportunity to see our children become accomplished adults, see my grand daughter grow up, and knowing there will be a future with my wife who is also my caregiver.

The struggles after surgery were minor compared to the benefits of a transplant. I became a new person as I enjoying different interests; even exercise is becoming something to look forward to. Proper diet and exercise are important to my long-term health and continued recovery.
What I am most grateful for is that I am able to plan each day, each month and even each year knowing I will likely be here to fulfil those plans. Before the transplant, life was a day to day existence, but after transplant, the opportunities seem endless.

GoodHearts is the best support program there can be. Who else but other heart recipients who have made this incredible journey, can relate to what it means to have a second chance.
GoodHearts also provides our caregivers the opportunity to share their experiences with other caregivers. Their journey through the process is as incredible as that of the recipients. Caregivers endure all the work, concerns and worries without question or thought for themselves, allowing us to focus on getting better each day. They are all angels in their own way.

In closing, I would like to say thank you to my heart donor's family. I would also like to thank my wife, the U of A heart function clinic, the heart transplant team, the surgical team, all of the physiotherapy staff and my family and friends who continue every day to provide a positive and supportive influence, which gives me the encouragement to continue getting better each day.

December 2006

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