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By Sarah Collins
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — A number of times just after his 74th birthday, Don Stivers been given his aspiration present — a new coronary heart.

“I was born with a pretty lousy coronary heart,” he defined. “Increasing up, I decided I was heading to prevail over it and go to the Olympics and be a powerful boy. And so every thing I did was against doctors’ orders. They said never run, don’t do this, but I did in any case, and I would change blue and move out, and my mother would revive me.”

Stivers went on to be a substantial jumper at College of California, Los Angeles. He didn’t make it to the Olympics, but he stayed lively by the several years by hiking, actively playing softball, working, swimming and biking.

When he was close to 58, the California indigenous begun possessing problems with his electricity. On a specially tough working day, Stivers’ spouse drove him 4 hrs to a clinic in Santa Barbara, exactly where he was identified with ventricular fibrillation.


From that issue ahead, he had implantable cardioverter defibrillators in his upper body to assist his heartbeat stay on monitor. He went as a result of 6 in all.

“Then the very last a single, the wires experienced torn the tricuspid valve so poorly that the heart was in this kind of unfortunate shape,” stated Stivers. “My cardiologist sent me to Cedars-Sinai, and due to the fact they couldn’t restore the coronary heart, I ended up [going to the cardiology] crew and they said, ‘In your condition, a transplant is the way to go.'”

Stivers, a land surveyor, wasn’t the regular applicant for a new coronary heart.

Dr. Dominic Emerson, affiliate surgical director of coronary heart transplant and mechanical circulatory guidance in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, reported, “We do more grownup coronary heart transplants at Cedars than any other center in the state and truly the environment. For the reason that of that, we are in a position to expand who we are in a position to transplant. And as a consequence, some areas would not have detailed Don since of his age. And then since of his dimensions [he is 6 foot, 4 inches tall], it gets even fewer the number of organs that he can acquire.”


Fortuitously for Stivers, Cedar-Sinai’s heart institute was hoping to broaden its donor foundation with the support of a new technological know-how.

Personnel readying for a different mission at Van Nuys airport, Calif.

TransMedics’ Organ Treatment Procedure, nicknamed Coronary heart-in-a-Box, permits organs to are living outside the house of bodies for a more time interval of time, which means hospitals can scout a much larger geographic radius for feasible donors.

Usually, organs are set on ice, the place a coronary heart, for instance, can only continue to be practical for about 4 several hours. With Heart-in-a-Box, now underneath critique by the U.S. Food items and Drug Administration, the organ is linked to a portable machine that mimics how it would act in just the human entire body.

Cedars-Sinai experienced taken element in some early Coronary heart-in-a-Box trials within the hospital’s typical geographic bounds. But when the surgeons obtained a simply call from Hawaii about a relatively massive heart that arrived from a youthful, athletic human being, they raced to Van Nuys Airport.

At dinnertime on March 1, Stivers bought a mobile phone contact.


“We identified a match,” a medical center staff explained to him. “You really should be down right here by the time the donor coronary heart will make it back again.”

Stivers and his wife arrived at the clinic close to midnight, and the procedure started a couple of several hours later. The process was thriving, and Stivers grew to become the initial man or woman on the mainland to at any time get a heart from Hawaii.

“The surgeon, just after he set it in, he form of out of the corner of his mouth claims, ‘Trust me, you have the best coronary heart,'” Stivers recalled.

Stivers, who was estimated to have 6 to 12 months remaining to stay with his outdated heart, is surpassing recovery expectations. He and his wife, children, grandkids and excellent grandchildren are grateful for the extra time.

“I seem ahead to cliff jumping and swimming and biking, hiking and carrying out things,” claimed Stivers. “I’m 74 a long time previous, but I am 24 in the head.”

Now he has the heart to match.

Far more information

Check out Johns Hopkins Drugs for far more on coronary heart transplants.


Resources: Don Stivers, coronary heart transplant recipient, 3 Rivers, Calif. Dominic Emerson, MD, associate surgical director, heart transplant and mechanical circulatory aid, Smidt Coronary heart Institute, and surgical co-director, cardiac operation intense treatment unit, Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles

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