Meadville Tribune

Our Health

November 13, 2013

Man on road to recovery after receiving new heart

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — Some say there are people who “wear their hearts on their sleeves,” meaning anyone can tell how happy they are or how much in love they are.

Jeff Carpenter for the past couple of months had worn his heart around his waist — a portable heart pump that kept his blood circulating, performing a function that his heart could no longer perform.

Early Monday morning, Carpenter received a new heart, which was placed in his body where his old “achy breaky heart” — his sister-in-law, Tammy Palmer’s, words — had been removed.

By noon Monday, Carpenter’s new heart was functioning well and he appears to be on the road to recovery. A transplant patient at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Carpenter received the heart of a man who died in his 40s. The man’s family donated his heart and several other organs, resulting in at least four people getting a new lease on life.

The road to a heart transplant was not an easy one for Carpenter and his wife, Debbie. On Aug. 12, his heart stopped because of low potassium in his blood stream and he went into cardiac arrest. He had been on medication for bloating from water retention and he lost 30 pounds in three days — which resulted in the low potassium in his blood stream. It put him into cardiac arrest at home, where his wife found him on the sofa.

After being taken to Meadville Medical Center, Carpenter was life flighted to Presbyterian Hospital where he received care while waiting for a heart transplant. When he was discharged from the hospital, Carpenter was hooked up to the portable heart.

“If I turn it off, I die,” Carpenter said about a week before he got the heart transplant.

Carpenter’s family has a history of heart problems. His was caused by a lack of certain chemicals in his body.

He suffered his first heart attack on Aug. 1, 2007, and from then until this past October, he had four major heart attacks, three stents put in, four heart cauterizations, and a defibrillator was inserted in 2010. The defibrillator fired twice — once shocking him 20 times and the second time, shocking him 17 times. A defibrillator/pacemaker was inserted on Sept. 9, 2011.

Carpenter also had a liver treatment with Dr. Paul Piersel — necessary because of liver damage from taking the drug Crestor from January to July 2012.

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