When Danny started experiencing fatigue and nausea around age 33, he knew something wasn’t right. He went to several doctors over the next few years, but was told there was nothing wrong or that it was depression.
As time went on, Danny’s condition worsened and he began to have problems with memory and breathing. Working as a radiologic technologist, his symptoms worsened to the point that he could no longer do his job.
“I couldn’t remember how to do scans I’d been doing for 16 years,” he said.
Danny sought care at a local emergency room and ended up being hospitalized for a week. X-rays showed he had fluid in his lungs, but doctors ruled out heart failure because of his young age. However, a couple of days after he was released from the hospital, Danny went back, knowing something was still wrong.
This time his chest x-ray showed that he was in heart failure, and a subsequent echocardiogram showed his ejection fraction — the percentage of blood leaving the heart each time it contracts — was only 12%. A normal ejection fraction is 55 to 70%. Despite the results, Danny’s cardiologist insisted he was too young to have heart failure. Danny immediately asked to be transferred to University of Washington (UW) Medical Center in Seattle.
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The SynCardia Total Artificial Heart is a treatment option for cardiac transplant-eligible patients at risk of imminent death from biventricular failure.
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