Louisville Magazine

AUG 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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62 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.16 The patient: Dr. Dan Garcia, 68 The surgery: heart transplant "Dr. Garcia, I don't know you," the woman began. Garcia had taken a phone call from a stranger in his home. "I've never met you. I'm in Bible study at Our Lady of Lourdes. Your patients have been praying for you to get a heart transplant for a long time. I know your whole story. I had a dream, and God said you'd get a heart transplant real fast." "Really? Well, that's great. I really ap- preciate your prayers," Garcia respond- ed. He had been on the transplant list at the University of Louisville for five years. It was late 2015, and he had outlived the complicated implanted device routing blood through his heart. "You've got to transfer all your care to UK," she said. "I can't do that to all my faculty at U of L. I love my doctors. I love my hospi- tal. I can't do that." "I've had a dream," she said. "You're going to get a transplant real fast." A few weeks later, Garcia transferred his care to the University of Kentucky. Eight days after he was placed on the transplant list, he had a donor heart. An exact match. It was an unusually chilly Sunday in April 1990 when a pain flared in Garcia's chest. He blamed it on the cold. "at happens sometimes," he says. He and his wife had returned home from church. As he gathered the newspaper from the yard, the knot of pain expanded, deepened. He tried his inhaler — no go. EMTs drove him to Baptist Hospital, where he had a heart attack, his first. Two days later, surgeons opened his chest, operated on his heart. He had 97 percent blockage. A triple bypass, a cold recovery. A 10-day stay in the hospital, years in rehab. en: In the early hours of the morn- ing of his daughter's graduation from Vanderbilt in 2003, he woke up in a hotel room with a tight, oppressive pain radiating in his chest. His fingers on his wrist, his pulse erratic. His wife drove him across the street to the emergency room, where he stayed for 11 more days. "My heart was working so hard, it was like a can of worms," he says. "My blood vessels were all shot. ey looked like strings." rough cardiac catheter- ization, doctors put in a stent. In an office in the back of his Kentuckiana Allergy practice, Garcia flips a magazine over and draws a diagram. He makes an oval with two tubes at the top, an anatomical heart. He draws a couple of lines to represent the aorta, and a few more to represent arteries on the other side. He draws the left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, the machine that kept him alive for nearly six years. e device is implanted on the left side of the heart, where it creates a bypass to move the blood from the heart to the aorta, a detour around a construction zone. "I knew I was in heart failure," Garcia says. "I couldn't catch a breath to brush my teeth." His heart worked at 8 per- cent of its normal function at its lowest. He draws a larger circle around his initial drawing, saying that his heart was engorged. "ey said my heart was the

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