By Sarah Collins
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — A several days immediately after his 74th birthday, Don Stivers gained his desire present — a new heart.

“I was born with a really awful heart,” he described. “Developing up, I resolved I was likely to overcome it and go to the Olympics and be a solid boy. And so everything I did was versus doctors’ orders. They said will not run, will not do this, but I did in any case, and I would flip blue and pass out, and my mom would revive me.”

Stivers went on to be a substantial jumper at College of California, Los Angeles. He failed to make it to the Olympics, but he stayed lively by way of the years by hiking, actively playing softball, operating, swimming and biking.

When he was all around fifty eight, the California native begun having problems with his electrical power. On a significantly difficult day, Stivers’ wife drove him four hrs to a healthcare facility in Santa Barbara, in which he was identified with ventricular fibrillation.


From that stage ahead, he had implantable cardioverter defibrillators in his chest to help his heartbeat stay on keep track of. He went by way of six in all.

“Then the very last a person, the wires had torn the tricuspid valve so badly that the heart was in this kind of unfortunate form,” said Stivers. “My cardiologist sent me to Cedars-Sinai, and mainly because they couldn’t repair service the heart, I ended up [likely to the cardiology] workforce and they said, ‘In your ailment, a transplant is the way to go.'”

Stivers, a land surveyor, wasn’t the typical candidate for a new heart.

Dr. Dominic Emerson, affiliate surgical director of heart transplant and mechanical circulatory assist in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, said, “We do far more grownup heart transplants at Cedars than any other center in the region and genuinely the world. Since of that, we are capable to grow who we are capable to transplant. And as a consequence, some spots would not have stated Don mainly because of his age. And then mainly because of his measurement [he is six foot, four inches tall], it gets to be even much less the selection of organs that he can take.”


Luckily for Stivers, Cedar-Sinai’s heart institute was hoping to broaden its donor foundation with the help of a new technological innovation.

Employees readying for a different mission at Van Nuys airport, Calif.

TransMedics’ Organ Treatment Method, nicknamed Heart-in-a-Box, will allow organs to stay outside the house of bodies for a extended time period of time, meaning hospitals can scout a greater geographic radius for attainable donors.

Ordinarily, organs are place on ice, in which a heart, for example, can only stay feasible for about four hrs. With Heart-in-a-Box, at present less than assessment by the U.S. Food stuff and Drug Administration, the organ is linked to a portable system that mimics how it would act within just the human human body.

Cedars-Sinai had taken component in some early Heart-in-a-Box trials within just the hospital’s ordinary geographic bounds. But when the surgeons bought a connect with from Hawaii about a comparatively significant heart that came from a youthful, athletic human being, they raced to Van Nuys Airport.

At dinnertime on March one, Stivers bought a telephone connect with.


“We observed a match,” a healthcare facility employee informed him. “You ought to be down below by the time the donor heart helps make it again.”

Stivers and his wife arrived at the healthcare facility all around midnight, and the procedure began a pair of hrs later on. The course of action was effective, and Stivers grew to become the very first human being on the mainland to ever get a heart from Hawaii.

“The surgeon, immediately after he place it in, he kind of out of the corner of his mouth says, ‘Trust me, you have the best heart,'” Stivers recalled.

Stivers, who was approximated to have six to 12 months still left to stay with his previous heart, is surpassing restoration expectations. He and his wife, little ones, grandkids and terrific grandchildren are grateful for the added time.

“I glance ahead to cliff leaping and swimming and biking, hiking and performing issues,” said Stivers. “I’m 74 years previous, but I’m 24 in the head.”

Now he has the heart to match.

Much more details

Visit Johns Hopkins Drugs for far more on heart transplants.


Resources: Don Stivers, heart transplant receiver, A few Rivers, Calif. Dominic Emerson, MD, affiliate surgical director, heart transplant and mechanical circulatory assist, Smidt Heart Institute, and surgical co-director, cardiac surgical procedures intensive treatment unit, Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles