In an extremely rare outcome, UW Health patient Tom Satterlee was taken off the heart transplant list because his weight loss surgery enabled his heart function …
This is Tom eight years ago.
"To be honest with you, eight years ago
I didn't even know if I'd be alive the
following year."
And this is Tom today. "Normally I walk
seven miles in the morning
and then I'll come back at nighttime and
walk another seven."
Eight years ago Tom weighed 436 pounds.
"I think I had about 6% of my heart working.
I decided that you know what I've got a family and I've
got to be there for them.
So then I put that in my head that we
had to get out of this situation."
Tom's first step, a trip to University
Hospital in Madison.
He wasn't a candidate for a heart
transplant because he was too obese,
so he was implanted with a mechanical
pump to assist his heart.
Now he had to lose weight to get on the
transplant list.
"I had tried six different diets. None of
them worked."
Tom's last option was bariatric surgery.
Performing bariatric surgery on a
patient with an implanted assist device
is rare but Dr. Michael Garren had done it before.
"It really takes a coordinated effort
between the cardiology team
and our surgical team and the anesthesia team
to make sure that we provide the safest
possible care for this group of patients.
We learned with our limited experience
that we could do it safely and that's
the most important thing."
After a successful surgery and with a
lot of hard work, Tom started to lose weight.
"It's literally how mentally strong you are
and are you willing to give up or to
keep going. So I just kept going.
And when I started losing the weight
my miles started going up on
the walking. And let me tell you something—when
you're not carrying all that weight
you cannot believe how much more energy
you have with your body."
"But that makes sense why that light's
been on." Tom lost more than 200 pounds.
In September of 2020 there was concern
about blood clots with his heart assist device
so he went in to get it replaced.
amazingly when the device was taken out
his heart was working well enough on its own.
A new device wasn't needed and he no
longer needed a heart transplant.
"Actually going back to living normal is
what I think,
is what I'm having a hard time with. Not
that I don't deserve it,
but it's just getting to where you know,
life's great and it's enjoyable."

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