Heart Failure

Wendell never imagined one day he’d need a new heart. At 37, the active father from Florence, Kentucky, enjoyed his life with his wife, Angie, and young son, Isaiah. But when he started experiencing shortness of breath, he knew something might be wrong.

Not feeling any chest pain or any other symptoms, Wendell went to his primary care physician, who prescribed an inhaler for him. After the inhaler didn’t work, his doctor recommended Wendell get a stress test. When the results came back, both Wendell and his doctor were shocked to find out he had only 10 percent blood flow to his heart. Wendell was immediately referred to Dr. Chung, a congestive heart failure specialist at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati.

Here for a Reason

Wendell reflects on finding out about the seriousness of his condition and what might have been.

Felt like Home

Angie talks about the Unverferth House, Ohio State's on-campus residence for the families of heart patients.

Meeting Dr. Chung

Wendell speaks with Dr. Eugene Chung, the cardiologist who referred him to Ohio State.

My New Heart

Wendell speaks with Dr. Juan Crestanello about getting a second chance at life.

My Symptoms

Wendell talks with Dr. Ayesha Hasan, a cardiologist at Ohio State, about his early symptoms.

His surprising diagnosis "I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know it was that serious."

Before Wendell could visit Dr. Chung, his shortness of breath turned into long coughing fits. It was so bad one night that Angie took him to the closest ER, where he was admitted to the ICU. It was there he was later diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

Determined to beat it, Wendell left the hospital following doctor’s orders of a strict diet, regular therapy and medication. But it wasn’t enough, and Wendell’s health got worse. Angie recommended Wendell get a second opinion from Dr. Chung.

At first glance, Dr. Chung could tell something was seriously wrong with Wendell. The doctor monitored him for a few days at Christ Hospital, but before long, he knew it would take something more to turn his health around – Wendell needed a new heart.

A heart transplant was unavoidable "Ohio State was the best place for me."

In Dr. Chung’s opinion, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center was the only place to go for a heart transplant. He had partnered with Ohio State before, so he knew he’d be able to stay actively involved in Wendell’s care. Although the idea of a heart transplant was scary, Wendell decided to have the surgery.

Once at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, Wendell entered a few days of testing. As part of the hospital’s program, a former heart transplant patient came to speak with him. His name was Willy, and he answered all of Wendell’s questions candidly and put all of his fears to rest. By the end of the week, Wendell went in for surgery with Dr. Juan Crestanello.

After less than five hours in surgery, Dr. Crestanello came out to reassure Angie and Wendell’s family that everything had gone well. He also told them that if it weren't for the transplant, Wendell might have had only days to live. A week later, Wendell was back home.

He's amazed he's still alive "I'm still here for a reason."

These days, Wendell continues checkups with Dr. Chung in Cincinnati and with the care team at Ohio State. He enjoys being a part of the hospital’s support program, speaking with other transplant patients about his experience. But most of all, Wendell is enjoying this new chapter in his life. He’s back to being the active father he was with son, Isaiah, and he doesn’t take a single day for granted. Wendell knows he’s here for a reason, and that by sharing his story, he can help save others.

Why choose Ohio State for heart failure care?

Since completing our first heart transplant in 1986, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has been the only adult heart transplant center in central Ohio. Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital is consistantly recognized as a leader in heart care and heart surgery in U.S.News & World Report. We focus on the physical, psychological, emotional and social needs of patients with end-stage heart disease, through transplantation to post-transplant care.

Our researchers were among the first in the nation to evaluate the use of cyclosporine, a drug that suppresses the immune system and dramatically improves the success of organ transplantation. Our research teams are currently studying new methods to lengthen the amount of time a heart remains viable for transplantation and are constantly exploring new ways to improve the transplant experience for patients.

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