Hillsboro, Ohio, Man Receives New Heart


David Waits Leaving Hospital After Heart Transplant Surgery

David Waits, of Hillsboro, Ohio, no longer relies on a mechanical heart pump to keep him alive. Instead, he’s recovering after receiving a heart transplant.

Waits, 50, received a heart transplant at University of Cincinnati (UC) Medical Center Feb. 2. He had been at UC Medical Center awaiting a transplant since early October 2015.

Waits’ doctors say that a massive heart attack in December 2014 could have ended his life, but TriHealth Heart Institute cardiac surgeon Eric Okum, MD, consulted with the UC Health cardiac surgery team, placed Waits on temporary life support, and arrangements were made for him to be transported to UC Medical Center.

Once at UC Medical Center, Waits was implanted with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) to support his heart function. He’s been under the care of UC Health advanced heart failure therapy cardiologists Stephanie Dunlap, DO, and David Feldman, MD, PhD, since that time.

“Heart disease is in my family,” said Waits. “I’m a third generation heart disease patient. I’m lucky to be alive. Everyone tells me I’m a miracle. I shouldn’t be here. I guess God and my doctors at UC Medical Center thought differently. They fought hard for me. It’s going to be a lifelong journey but I’m in it for the long haul.”

Louis B. Louis IV, MD, chief of cardiac surgery at UC Medical Center, performed Waits’ heart transplant and implanted his LVAD in 2014.

“We’re very pleased with his progress to this point and we continue to follow his recovery very closely,” said Louis.

Said Waits’ wife Carol, “We are truly blessed. The last 14 months have been hard. But when I look back at December 2014—when I would thank God every night for giving me just one more day with David—I am overwhelmed with emotions.

“It’s amazing to see him up walking when just two weeks ago he had a hard time getting out of bed,”
Carol Waits added. “It was an amazing sight to see everyone clapping for him when he took his first steps after surgery. People came from all over this hospital to show their support. Everyone at UC Medical Center is family to us.”

Richard Lofgren, MD, UC Health president and CEO, said “Heart transplantation at UC Medical Center is just the latest advanced cardiac treatment to be made available in Cincinnati through our multidisciplinary approach to clinical care, research and education. We’re proud to be able to offer to the region this highly specialized procedure within our academic health system.”

The heart transplant program is an addition to other advanced medical therapies, including mechanical circulatory support devices, as well as advanced specialty services and cutting-edge clinical trials offered to heart failure patients. All of these are offered within the UC Health Advanced Heart Failure Treatment Center.

“UC Health is committed to the care of people with complex heart problems, including those who require heart transplantation and other modalities of advanced therapies,” said Richard Becker, MD, director of the UC Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute and director of the UC College of Medicine Division of Cardiovascular Health and Disease. “We are pleased that Mr. Waits has done so well. Our goal now is for rehabilitation and recovery and, ultimately, to support Mr. Waits as he returns to activities and doing the things he enjoys.”

Alan Simeone, MD, UC Health cardiac surgeon, recovered the donor heart and assisted in the transplant.

Details about the heart donor are confidential. The organ donation process is coordinated through LifeCenter, the Organ Procurement Organization facilitating organ and tissue donations in 16 counties throughout the Tristate area and coordinating efforts beyond our region.

“Mr. Waits’ heart transplant was only possible through the enormous gift of organ donation,” said Feldman. “Time and again I’m touched by families who choose to give so generously to a complete stranger at a time of such unfathomable grief.”

Dozens of health professionals are part of the multidisciplinary team who cared for Waits before and after his transplant surgery and will facilitate his recovery. These include, but are not limited to, critical care anesthesiologists; nursing staff; rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapists; pharmacists; advanced imaging and laboratory technicians; social workers; and spiritual care providers.

Said William Ball, MD, UC’s senior vice president for health affairs and dean of the UC College of Medicine, “As an academic health system, we’re not just able to provide the highest level of care, we are also able to advance the field of heart surgery. So the techniques that we are using now will become the standard with which the field is measured in the future.”

Several area patients are currently on the wait list to receive a heart transplant at UC Medical Center.

“Our capabilities are built upon a long-standing and highly successful solid-organ transplant program at UC Medical Center,” said Lofgren. “This strong history of transplantation services and our expertise with heart transplantation is vital and forms the foundation of our work moving forward.

“As is the case with our regional approach to stroke care, our heart transplant program will only be successful with the continued support of our colleagues at area health systems.”


Learn more about the UC Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute at uchealth.com/heart.

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