Dr. Pulliam implanted Mike with a pacemaker defibrillator to regulate his heart rhythm. "For a while, everything was fine," explained Mike. "But then, I started having issues with heartburn and was implanted with another stent. The left side of my heart was badly damaged."
A few months later, Mike was having chest pain. After two or three days, he went to the emergency room at Lancaster General Hospital. He was having a heart attack. Cardiac surgeon Dr. Mark Epler implanted an LVAD, a heart assist device, in Mike to keep him alive. Despite these efforts, his defibrillator went off three nights in a row, indicating his heart was out of rhythm.
"On Christmas morning, Mike's heart became erratic," says Deb. "We thought we lost him. Dr. Epler explained it was time for a heart transplant. That's when he got on the phone with the doctors at Penn Medicine and were explaining everything back and forth. Dr. Epler kept reassuring me that Mike was going to be Ok," Deb remarked. "He said he was otherwise healthy. His positive attitude was very uplifting and gave me hope. I was scared, but we knew we were in good hands at LG Health and that everything would be Ok at Penn."
A helicopter took Mike to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania later that day. "Everything was coordinated and went very smoothly," recalls Deb. "Even the helicopter pilot was kind enough to call when Mike arrived safely in Philadelphia."
On January 8th, a donor heart became available and Mike was taken into surgery. "I said a lot of prayers," recalls Deb. "But the counselors at Penn were great. They held my hand and made sure I was prepared for what lay ahead."
After a successful surgery and more than a month in the hospital, Mike was transferred to Magee Rehab. When he was strong enough to be discharged, he came home to Lancaster and completed outpatient cardiac rehab at LG Health.
It's been a long journey, but today Mike is feeling great. Deb and his two daughters are thankful for the care he received at both hospitals.