Patient Stories: After surviving a heart attack, a second chance thanks to LVAD
Sherese Powers, a nursing student and mother of two in her early thirties, had been dealing with ongoing unexplained chest pains for weeks. One night, she woke up at 3 a.m. due to the pains, and then when her alarm went off to start her day she realized that the pain hadn’t gone away. In fact, they had become more severe.
Powers sought medical care at Prisma Health Richland’s emergency department, where she learned that her chest pains were in fact the result of a massive heart attack.
As her heart was beginning to fail, Powers underwent surgery to place a left ventricular assistance device (or LVAD) implant. These implants help the bottom left chamber of your heart, or the left ventricle, pump blood out of the ventricle and into the aorta and, therefore, the rest of the body. While not a permanent solution, the LVAD is often used to help buy the patient time for a cardiac transplant.
“The LVAD is a device that enables patients to survive and thrive outside the hospital when their hearts are failing,” cardiologist Dr. Patrick McCann said. “This provides patients with a better quality of life and the chance to live longer than they would with only medical therapy.”
Prisma Health’s Heart Hospital is South Carolina’s first comprehensive hospital dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It’s also the first in the Midlands to perform temporary and permanent left ventricular assistance device (LVAD) implants in patients awaiting transplants or with failing hearts – something Sherese Powers never thought she would endure at such a young age.
Today, Powers has a career in nursing, a job she loves, watching her children grow up and keeping up her active lifestyle.
“This device doesn’t stop anything I do daily,” said Powers. “I drive, I cook, I go outside with my children, I’m self-sufficient. I’m waiting for a transplant, but this device gave me a second chance at life and doesn’t slow me down.”