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Heart Transplant Patient Perspective

A New Heart, A Chance for a Long Life

Less than two decades ago, four-year-old Gabe Coy probably would not have been alive to receive a heart transplant. When he was born, the left chamber of his heart was not functioning. He underwent three successful surgeries to repair his heart, but contracted a virus that permanently weakened it. He needed a heart transplant.

Gabe Coy with his motherGetting on the waiting list was not easy because Gabe had developmental delays and his outlook for longevity at first was not promising. However, he was subsequently diagnosed with a rare condition, Kabuki Syndrome, which actually has a good prognosis for longevity. His mom, Pam, enlisted the aid of his teachers and therapist to demonstrate the possibilities for Gabe’s life. In the end, he became a candidate for a heart transplant.

“Gabe was very sick for the four months he was on the waiting list,” Pam said. “He was on two IVs and oxygen, which allowed us to be at home, but it was very challenging. The whole time we hoped for the call from MUSC saying a heart was available. But at the same time, we were fearful. It was very hard emotionally.”

“Gabe was prepped as soon as the heart was on the plane,” Pam explained. “They opened him up and put him on the bypass machine, ready to receive the new heart once it landed. The whole process was amazing in the way everything came together. It was truly a miracle.”

Once Gabe got his new heart, he recovered quickly and obviously felt so much better. Pam said the pain he experienced from the chest opening was not that bad compared to how good he felt with his new heart.

“Five months later, he was like a different kid,” she said. “He had lots of energy and his nails and toes were pink, not blue like before. His overall color is just so much better now.

“I can’t say enough about the MUSC Transplant Team,” she continued. “They were wonderful. They made us feel like we were essential participants in his care. They respected my opinions and welcomed my input. They realized that I know my child better than anyone, and that was a key component of the quality care he received.”