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Name: Dave

Age: 57

Location: Beacon Health System – Memorial Hospital 

Health Challenges: Bypass surgery, needed a heart transplant

Greatest Motivation: The program has helped me beyond the heart transplant development as well. I’ve lost weight, I look better (people tell me), and I’m able to do so much more. A few months ago, I wasn’t able to take the trash out without having to stop because of the pain. Now, I’m doing long hikes and exercising and having fun.  After just 9 weeks on the program, they’ve suspended my heart transplant. Nobody’s saying that it’s out of the question yet, but my heart function has improved drastically in just 2 months, and the doctors no longer believe that a heart transplant is the right course of action for me. I have hope again; it’s amazing.

His Story: “You need a heart transplant.”

Related Video playSouth Bend man off transplant list thanks to new program

When you hear those words, everything pretty much stops. I barely remember the rest of what the doctor said. It was all a haze. The world around you just freezes and you think, “Oh man, this is the end. What do I do?” And for most people, no matter where they look, there aren’t really any answers. It doesn’t get much lower than that.

“Don’t think about it, do it. If you have any type of heart disease, it will help you.”

After delivering the prognosis, the doctor told me that the survival rate for people who have had heart transplants is 11 years. I remember sitting there—57 years old and just having adopted a newborn baby girl—and thinking that 11 years wasn’t good enough. Dying at 68 years old wasn’t good enough. Luckily for me, just a few minutes after the doctor left the room, someone came in and told me about the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program. (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) Immediately, a little beacon of light popped back into my life. From that moment on, I was going to beat this thing. I was all in.

Today, after just 9 weeks on the program, they’ve suspended my heart transplant. Nobody’s saying that it’s out of the question yet, but my heart function has improved drastically in just 2 months, and the doctors no longer believe that a heart transplant is the right course of action for me. I have hope again; it’s amazing. When you’re looking fate in the eye, and your days are numbered, you don’t have a lot of hope. You wake up and you think, “Okay, here we go. Here’s another day.” But when you get that spark back, everything changes. That’s what the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program has done for me—a new spark, a new hope, a new life. Thanks to the program, it doesn’t look like I’ll ever have a heart transplant.

The program has helped me beyond the heart transplant development as well. I’ve lost weight, I look better (people tell me), and I’m able to do so much more. A few months ago, I wasn’t able to take the trash out without having to stop because of the pain. Now, I’m doing long hikes and exercising and having fun. Things aren’t perfect yet, but they’re definitely a lot better than they were—and they’re still improving.

If I’d never heard about the program, there’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would probably just be sitting around, waiting for the doctors to call me and say, “Hey, here’s your heart.” I wouldn’t be motivated to do anything—I’d just have been a slug. But today, things are totally different. That’s why I’d tell anyone who’s thinking about joining the program to do it. Don’t think about it, do it. If you have any type of heart disease, it will help you. Enroll. Make it happen.

Moving forward, I have all of the motivation in the world to continue this program. I don’t have a bucket list, per say, but I have a wife, kids, grandkids—and every day is an adventure. Whether you’re climbing Everest or going to the grocery store, every day is an adventure. That’s something you realize when someone tells you that there might not be many days left. Every day that I wake up is a good day.

Lastly, my biggest motivation of all is my six-month-old baby girl. One of the biggest joys in my life is when she wakes up, and I say good morning to her, and her face lights up with a big smile. It’s the best. So forget “11 years to live;” thanks to the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program, that poor girl is going to be with me for a long time to come, a very long time.

 

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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