Allison Perry

Lexington Man Who Had Heart Removed Waits Patiently for Donor

Published: Feb 28, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 28, 2013) — In February, as Valentine's Day comes and goes, reminding everyone to "have a heart," many of us take that simple biological fact for granted. But for 53-year-old Rick Elliott, it's a huge deal. Elliott, a Lexington resident, has been living without a heart for a year now, and waits patiently for the day when an appropriate donor heart is found for him.

 

Elliott, who has no prior history of heart problems, first fell ill in November 2011. He developed bronchitis and pneumonia that persisted throughout the holiday season. His health worsened, and he was admitted to St. Joseph Hospital on Jan. 25 of last year. Doctors there determined that he had suffered damage to his heart, and referred him to UK HealthCare for consideration of treatment options.

 

Dr. Navin Rajagopalan, medical director of cardiac transplantation, examined Elliott and determined that his heart was far too damaged to salvage with a ventricular assist device (VAD) — he needed a complete heart transplant, immediately. However, donor hearts are hard to come by, and the uncertain waiting period for a new heart posed a problem.

 

"Rick probably could have survived an immediate heart transplant, but it can take weeks, months, or even years to find an appropriate donor heart," Rajagopalan said. "He was too sick to wait."

 

On Feb. 29, 2012, Elliott's damaged heart was removed and he received a SynCardia Total Artificial Heart (TAH) as a bridge to transplant. Elliott became only the second patient to receive the Syncardia TAH in Kentucky, just two weeks after 20-year-old patient Zack Poe. 

 

The TAH is a device that contains the same components as a real human heart, and for patients who have end-stage biventricular failure — like Elliott — the only options are an immediate donor human heart or a TAH as a bridge to transplant.  

 

Elliott was officially placed on the transplant list on June 1, 2012. He went home to wait on his transplant, but when he began retaining fluid, he returned to UK for evaluation. Ultimately, due to his family's work schedules, he decided to stay at UK so he could remain under surveillance should anything happen that would require medical assistance.

 

It's been one full year since Elliott's heart was removed — and he says he's never felt better. He's just waiting on that perfect donor heart to come through. 

 

"I'm healthier now than I was before," Elliott says. "I just try to keep a positive attitude."

 

Elliott isn't alone. Roughly 3,100 people in the United States are on the waiting list for a heart transplant on any given day, but only about 2,200 donor hearts are available each year. The level of necessity, blood type, and size are among several criteria that determines who receives a donated organ. Additionally, 49 percent of people listed for a donor heart in the U.S. have been waiting for a year or longer.

 

While he waits for his heart, Elliott passes the time by visiting with family and friends and watching movies, and he's even taken up a new hobby — watercolor paintings. He stays mobile to keep up his strength. He knows that an appropriate heart will come one day and he remains as patient as possible until that day comes, without complaint. His perspective on the situation is refreshingly optimistic.

 

"This time last year, I was dying," he said. "And this year, I'm alive and healthy."

 

But he has big plans in place, post-transplant recovery — when asked what he was looking forward to doing the most once he's home and in the clear, Elliott answered without hesitation.

 

"I can't wait to mow my yard!" he said.

 

Just another simple task most of us take for granted.

 

*****

 

Rick's wife, Julie Elliott, has set up a donation fund in his name to help cover the costs of his medical care. If you would like to donate, stop at any Central Bank location and request that your donation go toward the "Elliott Heart Fund."

 

The Kentucky Organ Donor Registry is a safe and secure electronic database where a person’s wishes regarding organ donation will be fulfilled. Just one individual donor can provide organs and tissue for nearly 50 people in need.

 

To join the registry, visit http://www.donatelifeky.org or sign up when you renew your driver’s license.  The donor registry enables family members to know that you chose to save and enhance lives through donation. Kentucky’s “First Person Consent” laws mean that the wishes of an individual on the registry will be carried out as requested.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399 or allison.perry@uky.edu

img_0904.jpgimg_0911.jpg
March
1
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
2
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Resume & Cover Letters that Work
Mon
3
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Grad Salute
2nd Annual UK Work-Life Summer Camps Fair
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Keeping Your Brain Healthy
Successful Networking & Job Search
Guest Lecture
Documentary Screening: "Forgotten Wars, Forgotten Victims"
Bangladeshi Garment Worker Speak Out
A Reading by Nic Brown
CatWatch Party #3
Tue
4
LNFS Presents: The Mighty Ducks
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Art Therapy Table
OUTspoken with J Mase III
CANCELED: Appalachian Forum with Crystal Wilkinson entitled: Birds of Opulence: Black Women, Madness, and Resilience in Appalachia
Wed
5
LNFS Presents: Typeface
LNFS Presents: Space Jam
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Food for Hope
Thu
6
LNFS Presents: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
LNFS Presents: Pokémon: The First Movie
Cultural Coffee Hour
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Japan Today
Fri
7
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Karnival Around The World
Graduate & Professional School Prep:KAPLAN Free Practice Test for MCAT and LSAT
PharmD Open House
Sat
8
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
9
Midterm of 2015 Spring Semester
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
GUEST LECTURE
Appalachian Forum with Rebecca Klenk, Topic: Global Uttarakhand: Development, Neoliberalism and Social Justice in Himalayan India
Ballroom Thieves
Mon
10
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: Staying Positive During A Job Search
Massage on the Go #2
Tue
11
LNFS Presents: Only Lovers Left Alive
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Jin Shin Jyutsu Self-Help Class
Leadership Assessment
#TrendingTopics: Immunization
True Songs
Wed
12
LNFS Presents: Into the Woods
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Free Spring Break Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
LNFS Presents: Waiting for 'Superman'
Thu
13
LNFS Presents: Vertigo
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Free Spring Break Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
LNFS Presents: Trainspotting
Fri
14
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
15
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
16
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Mon
17
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
18
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wed
19
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Thu
20
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Plating Design Demonstration with Dan Wu
Fri
21
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
22
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
23
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
"Thrive: The Kentucky Wine Tradition" Documentary Screening
Mon
24
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: A Snapshot of the Central Kentucky Labor Market
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Kentucky Teacher's Network Career Fair
Tue
25
LNFS Presents: Rear Window
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Cultural Diversity Festival: Ten Thousand Villages
Virtual Dementia Tour
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Barred for Life: A Conversation on Mass Incarceration
Women of the World: Rosario Dawson
Wed
26
LNFS Presents: The Imitation Game
LNFS Presents: Blade Runner
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Student & Employer Mixer
Young Artists Exhibit Reception
Thu
27
LNFS Presents: Psycho
LNFS Presents: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
UK Woman's Club Craft and Bake Sale
Northeast Florida’s Late Archaic Mortuary Mounds: Memory, Community, and Environment.
Fri
28
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
29
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Lion King Trip
The Voice of Lexington Chinese Singing Competetion
Sun
30
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Mon
31
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
A Reading by Jim Gavin
Tue
 
 
 
 
Mar 31
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation 03/31/2015

Tue, 03/31/2015

Wed, 04/01/2015

Repeats every week until Thu Apr 30 2015 except Wed Mar 18 2015.
Wed, 04/01/2015

Repeats every week until Wed May 06 2015 except Wed Mar 18 2015.
Wed, 04/01/2015

Reset Page