Heart Failure Affects People of All Ages

When Ryan walks across the campus of Montclair State University he looks like a typical senior, anticipating graduation and a new chapter in his life. But life wasn’t always this predictable for Ryan. He had a serious congenital heart condition that required a heart transplant five years ago.


In the middle of his junior year in high school, a chest x-ray taken during a bout of bronchitis revealed his enlarged heart. He was immediately transferred to the heart transplant program at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, but doctors could not reverse his quick decent into heart failure. When Ryan’s heart stopped, an external mechanical pump kept oxygen-rich blood circulating through his body. This soccer team captain went from running on the field everyday to needing help to sit up in bed while he waited for a donor heart.

Newark Beth Israel is home to the third largest heart transplant program in the nation. It also achieves outstanding long-term outcomes and offers the shortest average transplant waiting time in the Northeast. Just 27 days after his heart stopped, Ryan received his heart transplant. Ryan is also part of the groundbreaking protocol developed right here in New Jersey that allows him to maintain his transplanted heart with only one immunosuppressive medication and none of the traditional steroids that can cause serious long-term side effects.

Last year, Ryan journeyed with his parents to meet the family of his organ donor and produced a documentary film series titled Ryan’s Heart that was aired earlier this year on NJTV.

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