Press Release from SynCardia:
Texas Mother Bridged to Heart Transplant with Total Artificial Heart Excited to Adopt New Baby One Year Later
"I Feel Better Than I've Felt in Years, Maybe Even My Entire Life," Says Shawn Galloway
TUCSON, Ariz. – July 25, 2012 – On Sept. 20, 2011, 39-year-old Shawn Galloway was given new life when she received a donor heart transplant after 60 days of support with the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart. This September, Galloway and her family will be blessed with new life for a second time. "We are in the process of adopting a baby," said Galloway, who has a 9-year-old daughter. "Our baby girl is due Sept. 21 and we are super excited about the new addition to our family. It is just one more reason that we are so thankful for the Total Artificial Heart!!! I wouldn't even be here to consider adopting had it not been for the grace of God and SynCardia." Galloway was diagnosed with heart failure in 2003, after she began experiencing shortness of breath while three months pregnant with her daughter Hannah. She spent three weeks in the hospital while doctors stabilized her with medication and went on to have a healthy delivery. A year later, Galloway was hospitalized again with the same symptoms, but was able to live a relatively normal life for the next seven years. However, in February 2011, she came down with a virus she couldn’t shake and ended up back in the hospital.
“My cardiologist told me we had gotten all the miles we could out of my heart and that they were going to start working me up for a transplant,” said Galloway. “It was beyond my ability to grasp. You hear about heart transplants, but you never really think it’s going to happen to you. They got me on the transplant list but I got sicker and sicker as I waited. Every night we prayed for a heart to come and it just never did.” To save Galloway’s life, on July 22, 2011, doctors at Texas Heart Institute performed their first implant of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart to bridge her to a transplant. She was the first of four patients to receive the Total Artificial Heart at Texas Heart Institute during a 12-day period.
“The first thing my family said after the surgery was they could not believe how pink my skin was and how deep the color of my lips was because I was getting oxygen for the first time in months,” said Galloway. “I could breathe when I walked and I didn’t feel like I was going to suffocate. It was like an elephant had been sitting on my chest and then suddenly that elephant got off.”
Shawn Galloway was the first SynCardia Total Artificial Heart patient in Houston to be switched to the Freedom® portable driver. On Aug. 23, 2011, she was discharged from Texas Heart Institute to wait for a matching donor heart at home. A month after her surgery, Galloway became the first patient in Houston to be switched to the Freedom® portable driver, the world’s first wearable power supply for the Total Artificial Heart. On Aug. 23, 2011, she was discharged from the hospital to wait for a matching donor heart at home just in time to take her daughter to school for her first day of second grade. Galloway says she is very grateful for the support she received from her family and her husband Joel, who is a pastor. “I never once woke up in the hospital in the middle of the night by myself,” said Galloway. “Joel was my rock. When my feet needed rubbing, he rubbed them. When I was crying, it was his shoulder I was crying on. The same goes for my mom, who took care of Hannah. I couldn’t have done it without them.” While waiting for her donor heart, Galloway was able to go shopping at the mall, go out to dinner with her family and attend church to hear her husband preach. Two months after receiving the Total Artificial Heart, a matching donor heart became available.
“I woke up after the transplant and told my husband we need to thank God for my donor heart and pray for my donor family who is going through an excruciating time,” said Galloway, who sent a letter to her donor’s family. “While we were thrilled for the new life that had been given to me, we also felt terrible for their loss.”
Today, Galloway gives back by volunteering every Wednesday at Texas Heart Institute, talking to other patients who are waiting for a transplant as someone who has been through it.
“Coming up on 9 months since my transplant, I feel great, I feel amazing,” said Galloway. ”I feel better than I’ve felt in years, maybe even my entire life. It is possible to make it through this, not only because of the technology but also because of the grace of God. I would encourage people to sign up to be donors because there is an extreme shortage. People are dying every day because they need an organ and none become available.”
To learn more about becoming an organ donor, please visit http://organdonor.gov
The Freedom portable driver is CE approved for use in Europe and undergoing an FDA-approved Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) clinical study in the U.S.