LaShannon Bland knew heart trouble ran in his family. But at age 27, he did not think his heart would start giving out.
“I started feeling tired, short of breath, and felt my heart rhythm was bad,” Bland, now 32 said. “I came to the emergency room thinking I was having an asthma attack. They told me it was heart failure.”
Bland began working closely with heart failure specialist Ioana Dumitru, MD.
“We started him on heart failure medicine,” Dr. Dumitru said. “Unfortunately, his heart didn’t respond. The next step was to implant a left ventricular assist device (LVAD).”
Even with the help of the LVAD, a mechanical device that does much of the heart’s work, Bland’s heart was still failing. Transplant was the only other option.
“I went on the transplant list in January,” he recalled. “A week later, I got the call. February 3rd, 3:00 AM.”
Bland was the 100th heart transplant recipient at the medical center.
“LaShannon did very well in surgery,” said John Um, MD, heart transplant surgeon at The Nebraska Medical Center. “He had a strong recovery and is doing very well now that he’s out of the hospital.”
Bland is deeply grateful for his donor.
“It’s really more than words can express. I really want to thank them, their family, and everyone who had a part in keeping me going,” he said. “It’s my second chance. I feel sad that someone had to leave this earth to keep me on it. My love and my heart goes out to them and their family.”
Bland doesn’t spend much time thinking about being the 100th heart transplant recipient. He’s looking forward to being the father to his three kids he could not be when he was sick. He looks forward to simple things like running with his daughter or playing basketball with his son.
“This milestone, 102 transplants in six years is a great credit to The Nebraska Medical Center and UNMC staff members who work so closely with the patients,” said Jorge Parodi, executive director of cardiovascular services.
Bland feels a special connection to the medical center. Not just for the cardiology and transplant teams, but for the institution as a whole.
“I was born here,” he said. “My first life started here, and my second life started here too.”