Donors helped Roger Toliver to a new heart. Roger had a severe heart attack at age 47. For years, he and Providence Heart Institute cardiologists managed his badly damaged heart with medications and other treatments. That worked until 2012 when, as he said, “It was get a heart assist device or expire.”
Luckily for Roger, years of donor support had allowed the institute’s Center for Advanced Heart Disease to become a national leader in the use of left ventricular assist devices, or LVADs. Implanted in the body, LVADs are small pumps that help damaged hearts circulate oxygenated blood.
The center’s medical director, Jacob Abraham, M.D., oversaw the implantation of Roger’s LVAD and cared for him until he received a heart transplant at OHSU in 2018, a procedure overseen by cardiologist Jill Gelow, M.D.
“The heart transplant waiting list is tragically long,” says Dr. Abraham. “Roger is a prime example of how an LVAD can provide a bridge until a heart becomes available. For other patients, an LVAD represents a great permanent option.”
Roger is thankful to have had an LVAD as a bridge. “I went hunting and fishing with the mechanical device,” he said. “But it’s really great to have a new heart and a team like this to care for me.”
“It was get a heart assist device or expire.”