Keeping the Beat with a Second Heart Transplant

Kathy received her second heart transplant at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “It is not what happens to you in life, but how you deal with it, that makes you who you are,” she reflected. “I am very grateful to have received the gift of life--- twice.”

Kathy shares her philosophy with her daughters, ages 14 and 17. After two transplants, she says, “I’m not like other moms. The girls are very strong and we just deal with whatever comes our way. We work together as a family.”

The whole family volunteered at Newark Beth Israel’s annual Heart & Sole Walk that raises funds to support patients at the Heart Failure Treatment and Transplant Program. Still recovering from surgery, she attended the event while her daughters helped with registration and her father and cousins joined in the walk around Verona Park.

Kathy received her first heart transplant at Newark Beth Israel in 2001. “Actually, it is not unusual for someone who receives a heart transplant at a relatively young age to need a second transplant,” said Mark J. Zucker, MD, JD, Director of the Heart Failure Treatment and Transplant Program. “Heart disease can develop for many reasons that we cannot predict.”

Eight years after her first transplant, her right pumping chamber (ventricle) was not functioning well and she began to have symptoms of heart failure. Doctors performed a procedure to cut away some of the tissue that was restricting her heart, but that made little difference.

“I was retaining fluid which affected my kidneys. By last spring I was really slowing down,” she recalled. In August, doctors explained that she would need another heart. She was admitted to Newark Beth Israel and began the wait for a second donor heart. “Your life is up in the air but, this time things were a little easier because I knew what I was in for,” she said. “I was speechless at the miracle of getting a match in just nine days.”

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