By the time Charlie was put on the waitlist for a heart transplant in May 2017, he’d been living with heart failure for nearly a decade. When a pacemaker was no longer enough to help his heart, he received a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, in 2016.
Although the LVAD improved day-to-day life, Charlie wasn’t feeling as well as he had hoped, though he did his best to maintain a positive attitude. He came to accept the limitations and that he “was never going to be able to do what others do,” such as climbing stairs or even walking short distances without becoming short of breath.
Charlie and his doctors at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute knew that a new heart could change his life dramatically. But because he was stable on the LVAD, his need was considered less urgent, meaning he was likely to spend longer on the transplant waitlist. Several other factors, including his blood type and physical size, could also increase the wait for a suitable donor beyond the typical two years. During that time, he would be vulnerable to complications that could eliminate transplant surgery as an option.
To speed up the process of waiting for a transplant, Charlie agreed to receive a heart that was positive for hepatitis C, a curable virus. In February 2019, less than two years after Charlie was placed on the waitlist, Nader Moazami, MD, and Deane E. Smith, MD, implanted Charlie’s new heart. Over the next few weeks, he was treated with medication to clear the hepatitis C infection from his system.
“The entire Transplant Institute team has been magnificent. There’s a commitment that goes above and beyond from the entire staff, and each one of them has found the time to listen to my concerns.”—Charlie, Age 64
Nearly a year after the transplant, Charlie has regained his optimism—and his stamina. He speaks triumphantly about conquering a slope at the entrance to NYU Langone Medical Center that used to leave him gasping for air. “Now, I go up it deliberately, at full speed, and I shoot with confidence through the door. I’m feeling better than I ever expected,” he says.