A Group Effort

Stephen Lund showed up at UT Southwestern wearing a birthday hat and holding a party horn. The celebratory occasion was the first birthday of his new heart. The 62-year-old Tyler resident first came to UTSW when doctors in his area could no longer help him. His case was too severe.

He urgently needed a heart transplant, but his organs were failing one by one. Doctors couldn’t put him on the waiting list for a new heart until his vitals showed improvement.

“Everything was shutting down,” Mr. Lund said. “People were counseling my wife and our three children. They were essentially planning my funeral.”

But his UTSW doctors wouldn’t give up. They placed a temporary Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) in Mr. Lund’s chest to ease his ailing heart and to give his other organs a chance to recover.

Dr. Joseph Mishkin, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, stayed up 40 hours straight to monitor Mr. Lund’s progress, hoping the LVAD would turn the state of his organs around. It did. Mr. Lund was put on the waiting list.

Three days later, the call came. There was a heart that matched Mr. Lund’s specifications. The problem was the donor organ appeared overstressed and unviable. But Dr. Mishkin persisted. He chose to monitor the organ, and his patience was rewarded. Its statistics improved, making it a viable option for his patient.

 “They are all an amazing group of people,” Mr. Lund said of his UTSW caregivers. “Their knowledge and their medical ability is unrivaled. But their personal care is just as important as, or more important, than the other.”

Said Dr. Mishkin: “This was a group effort. The entire transplant team was fighting to save this man’s life.”