Heart Transplant: Kathy Morgan

Transplant patient Kathy

A second heart transplant after a very successful first, with a little help from some new technology.

When Kathy Morgan received a heart transplant at age 18, she never thought about it “wearing out,” but after 35 years that included 2 kids and 31 years teaching elementary school, that’s exactly the situation she faced. One Thursday about a year after being listed for a new transplant, Kathy was making dinner. Being a little prone to accidents, her scream from the kitchen was met with concern from her family that something had happened during dinner prep. But no, that scream was delight… The call had come from Henry Ford Transplant, and Kathy had a new heart!

After dinner, Kathy was off to Henry Ford Hospital and Saturday morning she received her heart under the care of surgeon Dimitrios Apostolou, M.D. The pace of all this may seem a little more relaxed than usual, and that may be because Kathy’s new heart was not traveling on ice in a cooler, dying just a little bit each minute it sat outside of a human body. Instead, Kathy’s heart, from the time it was removed from the donor, lived on the TransMedics OCS Heart, a machine that delivers the heart blood and nutrients, while it continues to pump and stay in an overall healthier state than previous methods of preservation.

Kathy is now back at life. Always active, she bikes 5 miles a day, or walks 2-3 miles, and attends regular tap classes. She’s also having regular follow-up visits with cardiologist Bashar Hannawi, M.D., insuring a long, healthy life with her new heart. As for how things are different this time around, she mentions that medications are different and fewer, and of course she’s a little wiser, though always a rule-follower and never one to risk her “gift of life.” In the months ahead, Kathy looks forward to reaching out to her heart donor’s family to let them know how much their loved one’s gift is appreciated.

When asked what she would tell someone waiting for an organ transplant, Kathy assuringly says, “Have faith, your life will change, but only for the better.”

It is hoped that in the future, the TransMedics system will make more organs available for transplant.
At the time of her second transplant, Kathy was or longest-living heart recipient at 35 years, 5 months and 3 days.
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