Faces of Cardiovascular Disease: The long journey to heart transplant

February 9, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

Daniel Silverman has faced death more times that he’d like to think about. But through the years — 21 to be exact — and the many heart-related emergencies he’s experienced, he has never once asked: “Why me?”

This 59-year-old heart transplant patient is especially grateful to be alive today, and is thankful for his heart donor and for the cardiovascular team at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. But the road to his successful heart transplant has been a long and difficult one.

From the beginning

Daniel’s heart issues were first discovered during a routine physical in 1995. Daniel says he stayed healthy until one day in 2005 when he went into sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) during a golf game. “It just so happened that the golf course was right next to a hospital, so I was treated quickly and survived,” he says.

He was referred to an electrophysiologist, who diagnosed Daniel with a more severe arrhythmia than the PVCs he had been experiencing. The doctor recommended an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD), a small implanted device designed to treat irregular heartbeats. It was the first of four such devices he would eventually receive.

Daniel remembers his first ICD shock and says, “It was the beginning of a slow downward spiral that I was on for the next eight years,” as he experienced numerous shocks as well as other issues with the devices.

Over the next few years, Daniel’s health deteriorated; his heart muscle could barely pump enough blood through his body. It was determined that he would need a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) in order to survive the wait for a heart transplant. Cardiac surgeon Dr. Francis Pagani performed the six-hour LVAD surgery, and Daniel began his long journey to recovery.

“The U-M team’s confidence raised my own confidence level,” says Daniel. “I never felt like I was going to give up.” Through it all, he says the team “made me feel like I was the only person they were caring for. They were all working very hard for me.”

Read more in the CVC HeartBeat Blog at http://umhealth.me/1Px7NfV