Image-empty-state.png

Peter Dodd

Heart Transplant - 11/2011

One beautiful afternoon in April of 1999, I was out doing my routine 6-mile run and a Golden Retriever came out of nowhere and knocked me to the ground. Two weeks later, I had a scrape on my arm that wouldn’t heal, so I went to the doctor. While I was in the doctor’s office, he asked if I had any other concerns. I told him that occasionally when I ran, I would have trouble catching my breath. He asked if I had ever had an EKG done and I said no because I was always so healthy and health conscious. He hooked me up to the EKG machine and it was so abnormal, he sent me directly to a cardiologist that afternoon.

One beautiful afternoon in April of 1999, I was out doing my routine 6-mile run and a Golden Retriever came out of nowhere and knocked me to the ground.

Two weeks later, I had a scrape on my arm that wouldn’t heal, so I went to the doctor. While I was in the doctor’s office, he asked if I had any other concerns. I told him that occasionally when I ran, I would have trouble catching my breath. He asked if I had ever had an EKG done and I said no because I was always so healthy and health conscious. He hooked me up to the EKG machine and it was so abnormal, he sent me directly to a cardiologist that afternoon.

Over a period of several weeks, I was diagnosed with a rare genetic heart disease called ARVD (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia. This disease causes the right side of the heart to enlarge and develop fibro-fatty tissue in place of healthy muscle tissue. This unhealthy tissue can cause the heart to go into VT (ventricular tachycardia). These are dangerous arrhythmias which can cause sudden death. I was told to stop running, bicycling and doing any strenuous physical activity because that is what can trigger the arrhythmias. I was sent to a cardiac electrophysiologist who implanted an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator). This was done to shock my heart back into normal rhythm in order to save my life if needed.

I was on several different medications and blood thinners for about 13 years. My health was deteriorating before my eyes. In 2009, I went into congestive heart failure and gained 40 pounds of fluid over a few days. After that heart failure incident, my cardiologist told me there was not much else she could do for me and she referred me to Dr. Roberta Bogaev at St. Luke’s Hospital and advised me that I needed to get on the heart transplant list.

Because I had right-sided heart failure, I was not a candidate for an LVAD (left ventricular assist device) so the only option for me was a transplant. I was put on the transplant list in August 2009. My condition continued to deteriorate. I could barely walk a few feet without needing to stop to catch my breath. I was admitted to St. Luke’s Hospital on November 11, 2011 and a balloon pump was placed inside my heart. I could not get out of bed and had to lay flat on my back the entire time. On November 26, 2011 (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) I received my new heart. My heart was from a 19 year old boy whose parents were generous and kind enough to donate his organs so that I, as well as many others, could have a second chance at life.

Gratitude:

...I am almost to my 1-year anniversary and I walk 6-8 miles a day about 4-5 days a week and ride my bicycle about 20 miles 2-3 days a week. I was blessed to dance with my daughter at her wedding in September and my wife and I are looking forward to our first granddaughter who is due in January 2013. I also can enjoy my 16-year old son and spend time with him. My wife and I have been very blessed by God and give Him all the glory for what He has done in my life.

We are thankful for the golden retriever God sent to knock me down so I would go to the doctor in the first place. We are thankful for all the wonderful doctors God led us to over the years, especially the doctors, nurses, and all the staff at St. Luke’s – what a gifted and talented group of people! And our biggest thanks is to the young donor’s family for choosing to give life to others in the face of their tragic loss.