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When physicians told Pat Sutherland she needed a heart transplant, she was stunned.
“Time just stopped,” the 57 year old said. “It was like Charlie Brown’s teacher was talking. All you could hear was, ‘Blah, blah, blah.’”
Sutherland had cardiomyopathy, a condition that makes it difficult for the heart to deliver blood to the body. Despite the distance between Louisville and her hometown of Versailles, Sutherland believed having her transplant at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, was the right choice.
“The day we found out about my new heart was the 15th anniversary of my dad’s death,” Sutherland said. “I felt like he was an angel floating around me.”
On March 23, 2016, Sutherland’s heart transplant was performed. During her 60-day stay in the coronary care unit, she bonded with her nurses.
“We became like a family,” Sutherland said. “No matter what kind of day they were having, they made sure I was doing OK and checked to see if I needed to go for a walk or needed a laugh.”
For her continuing recovery, Sutherland transitioned to the Healthy Lifestyle Center (HLC) at Saint Joseph Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health. Sutherland loves its fun crew.
“They laugh with you and encourage you if you’re having a hard time,” Sutherland said. “They have the know-how, and teach you how to use the machines, how to care for yourself and tips for healthful living.”
Sutherland hopes to one day meet her donor’s family and express her appreciation. She and many of her family members are now donors because of her experience.
“How many times do you get a second chance to live?” Sutherland asked. “What a blessing it is to be able to thank the Lord and people for everything they’ve done for me.”
This article originally appeared in the 2017 Winter edition of One Health magazine. For more stories like this one and news and information on heart health, subscribe to One Health today.