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
February
 
1
Graduate Student Congress Meeting (February)
Mon
2
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Tue
3
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Wed
4
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Thu
5
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Explore Blue
Off-Campus Student Services' Wildcat Apartment Hop #1
Panel Discussion: Historic Homes
Fri
6
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sat
7
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sun
8
K Crew Recruitment
Sex and Chocolate
Law School Prep Workshop
Mon
9
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Healthy Relationships Workshop
How to Package Communication and Technical Skills on your Resume
2016 Distinguished Industry Lecture Series
Tue
10
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Last Day to Receive 50% Refund
Pinterest Party #1
Get Yourself Tested!
Off-Campus Student Association Information Session
Showcase your Talents: Building a Strong Portfolio
An Evening with Tatyana Ali and Amir Windom: Progression Towards Success
How to Survive a Plague
Wed
11
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Coffee & Canvases
Off-Campus Student Association Information Session
Study Abroad in Berlin!
Horticulture Club Valentine's Day Sale
Thu
12
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Explore Blue
Horticulture Club Valentine's Day Sale
Ash and the Market: Ceramic Exchange, Political Economy, and the Late to Terminal Classic Transformation of the Kiuic Polity
Fri
13
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Learn to Play Bridge
Workshop: The Artist Statement
Sat
14
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sun
15
K Crew Recruitment
See ICT
Patterson School Guest Speaker Series
Mon
16
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
See ICT
UK Women's Forum February Board Meeting
Tue
17
K Crew Recruitment
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Food For Thought
Wed
18
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Soup & Substance: Real Talk, Real Issues, & Real People Series
Thu
19
PharmD Interviews
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Explore Blue
Off-Campus Student Services' Wildcat Apartment Hop #2
SAB Underground Formal
Fri
20
PharmD Interviews
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sat
21
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Sun
22
Undergraduate Research Information Session
University Health Service- Let It Go
Monday Night Mingle
Mon
23
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
University Health Service- Know Your Numbers
University Health Service- Mindful Eating
Tue
24
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Don't Blame It On Aging
Ravi Zacharias at Memorial Coliseum
Wed
25
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Thu
26
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
Explore Blue
Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference
Eday Talk by Georgetown Toyota President Wil James
Do What You Are: Connecting Personalities w/ Profession
Off- Campus Student Services' Wildcat Apartment Hop #3
Traditions and Transformations in Tz’utujil Territory, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, 500 BC – 1524 AD
Concert in the Museum: Central Music Academy
Fri
27
Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
UK E-Day
Pre-Opera Dinner
Sat
28
Bill Adams: Blue Madness
Open House: Selections from the John and Sue Wieland Collection
DanceBlue Rave Hour
Sun
29
Monday through Friday - Midterm Grading window is open. The mid-term grading window will close at midnight on March 11.
Monday through Wednesday - Students are prohibited from changing academic major
Bodies Of Evidence: Provocations: A Transnational Feminist History Project
Monday Night Mingle
Mon
 
 
 
 
 
Feb 14
Bill Adams: Blue Madness 02/14/2016

Mon, 02/15/2016

Repeats every day on January, February, March, April every Sunday and every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday until Sun Apr 03 2016 .
Tue, 02/16/2016

Repeats every day on January, February, March, April every Sunday and every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday until Mon Apr 04 2016 .
Tue, 02/16/2016

Tue, 02/16/2016

Reset Page