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I was in the desert racing my motorcycle like any other typical weekend when I started feeling a great deal of chest pain. I had no idea what was wrong.
When doctors at Sharp Memorial Hospital saw me, they discovered that the valve that allows blood to flow out of my heart was destroyed. My aorta had torn and it had progressively blocked the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, causing me to have heart attacks. It was not exactly clear how bad my heart was damaged. What was certain was that it needed to be fixed quickly.
The cardiac team replaced my damaged aortic valve with a mechanical metal valve, replaced the torn aorta and grafted the coronary arteries. Unfortunately, my heart did not respond so surgeons had to implant a heart pump. At the time, we all assumed that I would need a heart transplant. A few days later my doctors were amazed at the progress I was making with the heart pump. We decided to wait on the heart transplant and see if the heart pump would allow my heart time to rest and heal.
During the following eight months of recovery at home, I was able to lead a relatively normal teenage life. I worked construction and drove my new four-wheel off-road dune buggy as often as possible.
Then it was time to see if my heart had recovered enough for me to live without the heart pump. The surgeons at Sharp Memorial Hospital performed the first-of-its-kind surgery in the country to give me a new lease on life. They removed the HeartMate II heart pump, repaired my mitral valve and replaced the metal heart valve. Thanks to the wonderful, pioneering surgeons at Sharp Memorial, the innovative surgery was a success and I am now living with my own heart and no heart pump.
I went home 10 days after my explant surgery. I am currently attending cardiac rehabilitation and getting stronger every day. I’ve been riding motorcycles and off-road vehicles since I was two years old and I can’t wait to get back to the sport I love.
I can’t express how great all the people at Sharp Memorial Hospital are. I wouldn’t be alive today without them.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's heart transplant services 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 transplant, visit Transplantation in Adult Health or read the Transplant News archive.