A Dream Realized

Robert Drummond, 71, of Hillside, lost track of the number of times his heart stopped. Pacemakers, defibrillators, medications and hope were not enough to keep his heart beating while he waited for a transplant. But, an extraordinary heart pump helped to bridge the gap.

In 2009, Robert, who was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, was the first person in New Jersey to rely on a small, quiet, implantable electromagnetic pump to circulate blood throughout his body – the DuraHeart ventricular assist device (VAD).

The device, implanted at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBIMC), an RWJBarnabas Health facility, enhances quality of life for people with heart failure and can serve as a bridge to transplant or provide therapy for people who are not eligible for a transplant. In Robert’s case, it would serve as a bridge.

Twenty-two years ago, NBIMC implanted New Jersey’s first VAD, drawing cardiac experts from throughout the region to receive training in the use of the devices.

“I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs before receiving the VAD,” explains Robert, who underwent a heart transplant at NBIMC performed by surgeon Margarita Camacho, MD, Surgical Director of Cardiac Transplantation, only six months after the VAD was implanted. Following eight weeks of cardiac rehabilitation, also at NBIMC, he was on his way to a new reality – singing in the church choir and volunteering for NBIMC’s Hearty Hearts group and the New Jersey Sharing Network. And, his dream about shooting hoops in his backyard with his grandchildren came true.

Now five years post transplant, Robert exclaims that, “life is good. Dr. Camacho is the greatest, as are all the nurses, doctors and therapists at Newark Beth.”