A trip to the emergency room ended with a startling diagnosis: at the age of just 33, Rasheen had high blood pressure and diabetes, which caused him to develop heart failure and stage 4 kidney failure.
Dialysis could help with the kidney failure, doctors told him, but they estimated Rasheen would only live for another three to five years if he didn’t receive a heart transplant.
Rasheen could have given up—but instead, he chose to fight.
He lost the weight he needed in order to get listed for a transplant. He diligently followed doctors’ orders, even running up and down the steps at his home for exercise when the weather was bad and he couldn’t get to cardiac rehabilitation at UC Health.
After a year on dialysis, Rasheen was receiving treatment one afternoon when he finally got the call: there was a new heart—and a new kidney—waiting for him at UC Medical Center. He burst into tears at the news, worrying his dialysis nurses at first.
On June 7, 2017, under the skilled hands of UC Health Chief of Cardiac Surgery Louis B. Louis IV, MD, Rasheen received the heart transplant that he so desperately needed.
“To this day, I always say that this man saved my life,” Rasheen said. “Every time I see him, I tell him that he saved my life. And the first thing he says is, ‘No, no, no—it was a team effort.’”
Shimul A. Shah, MD, section chief of transplant surgery at UC Health, performed Rasheen’s kidney transplant the same day.
That day changed everything for Rasheen.
“You never know how sick you are until you’re not sick anymore,” he said.
Today, Rasheen continues to focus on his health. Receiving an organ transplant means lifelong medical care, and Rasheen feels fortunate to have that care in his own backyard.
He has also become an advocate for the importance of preventative medical care, especially among members of the African-American community, and often speaks at local events and churches.
“I’m not trying to build my life around my heart transplant,” Rasheen said. “My heart transplant is part of my life now.”
And on June 7, 2019, Rasheen celebrated the second anniversary of his lifesaving transplant surgery by not celebrating at all. Instead, he had a normal day at home with his family, including his mother, as well as his niece and nephew, whom he raised.
For Rasheen, a normal day with no worries about his heart or his health is the biggest blessing of all.
“My hope is right now,” he said. “Every day, every moment, I’m living in my hope—and it’s a beautiful thing.”