L42 — October 2011 — Triathlete Transplant
Intro: This is a story of the power of perseverance and love. A man named Kevin Lue was a triathlete who developed a rare disease that caused his heart to fail. In a matter of months, he went from intense competition to barely being able to walk. He needed a heart transplant. In addition to his new heart, he got a whole lot more.
Maureen likes to run. That's how we met.
Running and competing in triathlons are passions for Kevin Lue.
But when a disease called giant cell myocarditis caused his heart to fail…
I couldn't believe how weak I was.
I pretty much got dizzy, passed out.
The cause of giant cell myocarditis remains unknown, it results in the immune system attacking the heart.
He presented with a disease where his body attacked its own heart and destroyed it, and destroyed his heart function to the point that it was negligible. But because he was in such phenomenal shape, he could still do things that he should not have been able to do.
But eventually, Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Farris Timimi says Kevin's heart deteriorated to the point where he needed a heart transplant.
I think if Kevin had not been in the shape he was in, he would have died.
A heart was not available immediately. Doctors implanted what's called a ventricular assist device — a mechanical pump — that kept Kevin's heart going.
We didn't actually think this would ever end.
They waited. And waited. And while they waited, Kevin and Maureen made a wonderful decision. To set a date for their wedding.
It was determined by when the best man and our family could be there.
Even Dr. Timimi attended. But the most exciting moment came the day after their vows.
We were downloading the photos from the camera, that is when they called and said, "Are you in town?" I said, "Yes." "We have a match." Well, it's like, OK. "I'll be there."
What a wedding gift. The gift of life.
Forty-eight more years, right? We want to be married 48 more years so we can make it to our golden anniversary.
And now that Kevin is fully recovered, he and Maureen can share their passion for running and love for each other.
I've done four half marathons already this year and a triathlon, so we're doing much better.
I think his story is a testimony to both his intrinsic reserve and the power of love. I really do.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
In October, Kevin and Maureen will be attending the Chicago marathon.
For more information, visit our website at…
STATIONS: Per the licensing agreement, please provide a link from your station's website to http://www.MayoClinic.org or voice tag "MayoClinic.org" for more information.