Friday, November 20, 2015

A second chance

LIKE FAMILY: Morgan and Ennis during a recent celebration of Morgan’s continued health

It’s not every day you get a second lease on life. Emma Morgan, however, received that second chance 10 years ago thanks to a procedure performed by the MGH Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Program. At the age of 72, Morgan was the first patient in New England to undergo a clinical trial for a new treatment for patients with advanced-stage heart failure. The treatment included Morgan being implanted with a new device, called HeartMate II, that was seven times smaller than similar devices on the market. It was implanted next to Morgan’s heart where it began pumping up to 10 liters of blood per minute – covering the full output of what her heart could do when it was healthy.

“The pump is good, but with your good care – along with my family’s support, especially my husband of 55 years – we’re here,” said Morgan during a gathering to celebrate the anniversary of her successful implantation.

Since her treatment, the Hudson, Massachusetts resident has seen her family grow, welcoming four grandchildren, and also adopting her MGH Mechanical Circulatory Support Program caregivers. Morgan and her husband John make regular trips to the hospital for checkups, and she stays abreast of the care team’s lives.

“Emma has become part of my family over the last 10 years,” says Stephanie Ennis, NP.  “She has become another grandmother to my children and is a favorite patient to our whole team. She schedules her appointments to ensure she sees us around the holidays to spoil the staff and our kids with gifts.”

The Nov. 5 celebration in the Blake 8 Buckley Conference Room brought togetherthis extended family to celebrate Morgan’s continued health, a rarity for patients with left ventricular-assisted devices. When Morgan had her device implanted, there were less than 500 patients living with this technology. Over the last decade that number has grown to more than 10,000 patients implanted for both bridge-to-transplant and destination therapy. Morgan is one of the longest surviving individuals to undergo a left ventricular- assist device procedure, which has now been FDA approved. In fact, she has not been hospitalized in more than two years.

“We have come a long way. We had problems in the beginning, but overcame them as a team,” said John. “The last 10 years have been good years. All our kids were young when Emma got sick, but she was able to see them grow up, get out of high school and go on to college – which is more than what we expected.”

David D’Alessandro, MD, surgical director of the Heart Transplantation and Ventricular Devices program, also spoke at the celebration. “Patients like you had to trust us and we took that leap of faith together, studying this technology for the hopeful benefit of you and future patients. We have been inspired by your bravery, which has contributed to major progress in our ability to treat patients with advanced heart failure.”

Said Morgan’s surgeon Tom MacGillivray, MD, co-director of the Thoracic Aortic Center, “When I first met Ms. Morgan, I was most impressed by two things: the severity of her heart failure and her wonderful family. Over the last 10 years, it has been so gratifying to see the quality of her life be transformed by her device. Emma is now a vital member of our MGH family.” 

Read more articles from the 11/20/15 Hotline issue.

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