Pat Sullivan’s Heart Transplant Survivor Story
Pat was a high-level executive in the consumer electronics, computer and cellular telephone industry. To the surprise and shock of friends, families and coworkers, Pat began the shift from fast-rising career to the fight for his life at the age of 38, living and surviving with heart failure.
In 1993, Pat was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF), by a doctor in Marlborough, MA, and transferred to a prominent specialist in Boston. After three weeks in the hospital, they advised him to change his stress levels. For several years Pat denied this was a life-threatening condition. After two years, and three more near-brushes with death, Pat realized he may not see his young son graduate from grade school and could leave his wife a widow at age forty.
He finally listened and accepted a slower pace in life.
For seventeen years Pat lived a very good life and kept himself busy enough to keep mentally and physically stable. He continued with heart health ups and downs; three Implanted Defibrillator/ Pacemakers (ICDs), more than twenty CardioVersions, eight stents, and a cocktail of fourteen medications he had to take religiously several times a day.
While undergoing a fairly routine surgical procedure to correct AF in December 2011, an error occurred. After ten days it became apparent Pat’s post surgery heart function crash was irreversible. He was brought, by ambulance, to Tufts Medical Center in Boston where they told him, along with his wife Leslie and son Riley, they doubted he would survive the next four days and to get his affairs in order. Fear enveloped the family. The team of doctors were doubtful he would survive the open heart surgery necessary to install a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD). Surprisingly, Pat did survive (without surgery) for almost two weeks. As a last resort, the family agreed to try the procedure. After a difficult 12-hour surgery and five days in a coma, Pat began the long road of a life with an LVAD and testing for transplant listing.
In April, after an almost 5-month stay in hospitals, losing more than fifty pounds, and being unable to walk more than three steps without a walker, Pat went home on intravenous medications. After two more hospitalizations, he was listed as a 1a “highest priority” heart transplant candidate. After another short stay at home using a new drug to combat a MRSA infection in his LVAD, he developed blood clots in the pump and doctors told him he would have to come stay in the hospital until he received his new heart. His heart transplant miraculously occurred the day before Thanksgiving on November 21, 2012.
During his stay in the hospital, and months before his transplant, Pat met his “heart brother” in Bob Romer. Bob and Pat talked daily about, if they survived, how they would give back. The HeartBrothers concept developed out of these conversations and the two are now acting on their dreams.
Pat is now focused on his new mission in life–the HeartBrothers Foundation–and helping others going through a similar fate.