Health

Triathlete Transplant-Mayo Clinic

Vivian Williams: This is a story of the power of patience and love. A man named Kevin Lou was a triathlete who developed a rare heart-debilitating illness. Within a few months, he was barely able to walk out of fierce competition. He needed a heart transplant. In addition to his new heart, he got a lot more.

Kevin Lou: Well, Maureen likes to run. That’s the way we met.

Vivian: Running and competing in triathlon is a passion for Kevin Lou, but when a disease called giant cell myocarditis weakens his heart.

Kevin: I couldn’t believe how weak I was.

Vivian: Everything stopped.

Kevin: I was dizzy and fainted.

Vivian: The cause of giant cell myocarditis is unknown. As a result, the immune system attacks the heart.

Farris Timimi, MD — Mayo Clinic Cardiologist: He presented with an illness in which his body attacked and destroyed his heart. It destroyed the functioning of the heart very slightly, but with such an amazing figure, it became possible to do things that could not have been done originally.

Vivian: But in the end, Dr. Tamimi, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, says Kevin’s heart has deteriorated to the point where it requires a heart transplant.

Dr. Tamimi: I think he would have been dead if Kevin hadn’t returned to his original form.

Vivian: The heart was not immediately available. Doctors transplanted a so-called ventricular assist device, a mechanical pump that keeps Kevin’s heart moving.

Kevin: We didn’t expect this to end forever.

Vivian: They were waiting and waiting, and while they were waiting, Kevin and Maureen made a great decision. Set the date of their wedding.

Kevin: The date was determined by when the best man and our family could be there.

Vivian: Dr. Tamimi was also present, but the most exciting moment was the day after their vow.

Kevin: We were downloading photos from the camera when they called and said, “Are you in town?” I said “yes”. And they said, “Well, we have a match.” I said (laughing), “Oh, okay. I’m there!”

Vivian: What a wedding gift! A gift of life.

Maureen Lou: 48 years left, right? To celebrate the Golden Anniversary, we need to get married for another 48 years.

Vivian: And now that Kevin is fully recovered, he and Maureen can share their passion for running and their love for each other.

Kevin: I’ve already done four half marathons and triathlons this year, so I’m doing much better.

Dr. Tamimi: I think his story is a testament to both his essential reserve and the power of love. It’s true.

For Medical Edge, I’m Vivian Williams.

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