On the first night of Christmas, a stranger gave to me...a new heart. IamA heart transplant recipient, AMA
Hi Reddit! On 7 January 2014, I underwent emergency surgery to receive an automated implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD), a device designed to stop dangerous arrhythmia in the heart by either pacing the heart back to a regular rhythm or shocking the heart into a “reboot” should pacing fail. This procedure stemmed from a massive episode of ventricular tachycardia (VT), a deadly condition that occurs when there are too many electrical impulses firing off in the heart; it presents as very rapid and irregular heartrates (my pulse was 240), making it very difficult for the heart to pump oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.
In the 7 years since, I have suffered countless episodes of VT and ventricular fibrillation (VF), an even deadlier condition than VT, received upwards of 60-70 shocks from my AICD, survived two cardiac arrests, and have undergone three surgical procedures: 2 cardiac ablations, which are designed to map out the electrical signals in the heart and cauterize the problem signals, and one bilateral cardiac sympathectomy (no layman's link available, sorry), which severs the sympathetic nerve from the brain to the heart and theoretically severs the ability of the brain to tell the heart to have these episodes.
None of these procedures worked in the long run, though, and in the early hours of Christmas Day 2020, I underwent heart transplant surgery. On 7 January 2021, 7 years to the day after receiving my AICD, I left hospital to begin what is probably going to be a year-long recovery. The doctors are very happy with my progress and my new heart has shown zero signs of rejection. I look forward to a long, healthy life and will have everlasting gratitude to my anonymous donor.