When Nancy came to NYU Langone, she was in the advanced stages of heart failure. Her heart stopped more than a dozen times. Again and again, doctors were able to resuscitate her, but her heart was severely weakened.
“They thought they were going to lose me,” she says.
To save her life, Nancy first needed ECMO treatment, also known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Deane E. Smith, MD, director of the Adult ECMO Program, performed this lifesaving procedure, which connected Nancy’s circulatory system with machines that took over the work of her heart and lungs.
Over the next few weeks, it became apparent that her heart would not recover enough to allow her to live without a permanent external device that would help it circulate blood through the body. Nancy, who also had kidney failure, resisted that treatment. She wanted a life free of devices and of limitations.
Nancy’s cardiologist Randal I. Goldberg, MD, an expert in treating advanced heart failure, told her that a successful heart transplant and kidney transplant could give her back her health and her independence. Nancy agreed to be placed on the transplant waitlist. Within two weeks, she received the lifesaving organs in surgery led by Nader Moazami, MD, surgical director of the heart transplant program at NYU Langone Transplant Institute.
Three weeks later, Nancy was well enough to go home and start rebuilding strength with help from the team at the Joan and Joel Smilow Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation Center, part of Rusk Rehabilitation. A year after surgery, Nancy is back to doing the things she loves, like walking dogs and spending time with her friends, and is excited about her future prospects.
“These people just taught me how to live again.”—Nancy, Age 57
“I feel like they turned back the clock for me 18 years ago because that’s when I started having heart problems,” Nancy says. “These people just taught me how to live again.”