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Thomas in the hospital after his LVAD implant surgery.
Thomas was a seemingly healthy man — a nonsmoker in his early 50s with no history of heart disease — before he started experiencing shortness of breath in September 2009. A chest X-ray showed that his heart was slightly enlarged and his doctor's best guess at the cause for his heart failure was a mysterious virus.
By May 2010, Thomas was walking with a cane and unable to carry conversations without losing his breath. He couldn't eat and had lost 53 pounds in three months, sometimes going a couple of weeks without a proper meal.
Thomas smiles the day before his explant surgery.
Remarkably, Thomas's own heart started to regain some function a few months after his surgery. By June 2011, doctors were astounded by Thomas's progress and suggested that his LVAD may be removed — a very rare development occurring in only 2 percent of LVAD patients worldwide.
Today, Thomas is enjoying life with a new appreciation for his health and his beating heart. He also chronicled his ordeal in a book titled “One Percent: My Journey Overcoming Heart Disease.”
For More Information on LVAD or Vascular Care
For more information about heart and vascular care at Sharp or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego cardiologist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about heart and vascular care, visit Cardiovascular Diseases in Adult Health or read the Heart and Cardiovascular News archive.