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MyLVAD A. Caregiver

MyLVAD Community Spotlight: Larry Lundy

In the spirit of National Donate Life Month, the MyLVAD Community Spotlight features heart transplant recipient Larry Lundy. Larry shared his reflections on his journey from LVAD to transplant.

I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2001, but with medication and a wonderful cardiologist, my condition was manageable and I lived a normal life until 2009. In late October 2009, I contracted a nasty case of flu that turned into pneumonia and I eventually ended up at the hospital with atrial fibrillation. While I virtually have no memory of what transpired after I was admitted, my family endured the agonizing pain of watching me barely cling to life as an ICU patient with end stage heart failure. A decision was eventually reached to implant an LVAD, which gave me a chance to live that I would not have had otherwise.

After another 35-40 days in the hospital and a week stay at a rehabilitation facility, I was able to return home on December 23rd and enjoy the holidays with my family. I returned much different when I left in October as I now had an implanted ICD, an LVAD, batteries, surgical scars and a ton of medication. It was if I was a ?soldier? returning from a brutal war?but nevertheless, I was returning. Normal routines, schedules and activities had to be altered which created some very frustrating moments and challenges. Ultimately, my faith literally carried me from day to day and I adjusted very well.

My LVAD team did a wonderful job of preparing my family and me for ?life with an LVAD?. The staff helped me make the adjustment and within a couple of months, everything pretty much returned to normal. There were very few restrictions and I did most of the things I wanted to do, including returning to work, serving in my church and spending quality time with my family. I grew accustomed to my LVAD and affectionately named the device ?my lil buddy?. Everywhere I went, ?my lil buddy? went too!

The next 13 months were lived with much prayer and great anticipation of finally getting a call from the Advanced Heart Failure Team about a donor heart being available. Then on the afternoon of November 29, 2010, I received the call that I had been waiting for. Somewhat bewildered after receiving the call, I asked my wife ?what do you think I need to do next?? She suggested that it was probably a good idea that I go to the hospital as quickly as I can! We arrived at the hospital later that afternoon and I was quickly prepared to receive a transplant. I awoke from surgery on November 30th and remember asking my wife two questions ? ?Is it over?? and ?Do I have a new heart?? She nodded and answered ?yes? to both questions and this was the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

About two weeks later on December 11th, I returned home and was able to return to work on February 15, 2011. I do not consider myself lucky, but blessed. I am a very blessed individual in many ways. Blessed to have a new heart and blessed to be the benefactor of a family who made an unselfish decision to allow their loved one to be an organ donor, which ultimately benefited me. I am also very blessed to be under the care of an extremely caring, dedicated, professional and technically advanced team of medical professionals from my Advanced Heart Failure Team. Without their insight, competent ability and unsurpassed commitment to excellence, it is doubtful I would even be alive to state this fact.

In conclusion, while the many procedures you undergo and drugs you have to take after the transplant may seem daunting at times, I have never once regretted the transplant decision. To any heart failure patient pondering whether to proceed with a transplant, I would simply suggest they ?do it and have faith?. Being a heart transplant recipient means I am now able to provide service, support and hope to others who are facing similar medical challenges. I am grateful to have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others!

Larry Lundy, Ft. Washington, MD