What an amazing story of survival! How appropriate that David and his granddaughter were honored with the use of their image on the homepage of the Myocarditis Foundation website.
Discover a Miraculous Giant Cell Myocarditis Survival
David’s Amazing Survival without a Heart TransplantIn April of 2005, I was a fit and healthy 49-year-old father of five and grandfather of one and taught Mathematics at a boys College in New Zealand. As with a lot of Kiwi’s, I enjoyed tinkering in the garage with my vintage Ford and ‘inventing’ gadgets, usually toys, and including a range of human powered vehicles. I was training for the local half-marathon in June and would regularly complete my usual one hour 40 run.
The sudden death by heart attack of my sister-in-law at Easter of 2005 gave me motivation to lose a bit of extra weight, so in addition to a solid fitness program, a serious dieting regime was followed. Pretty much all the good eating habits needed had been put in place already – drinking hot water, limiting fats and sugars and salt. It was a matter of winding up the efforts.
At the end of April within the space of one week of feeling less energetic, stomach pains and feverish sweats at night, I was admitted to hospital, a walking dead man with an ejection fraction of 19%.
On the first day in the hospital, it was confirmed that it was not a coronary attack, but myocarditis—probably caused by a virus attack on the heart muscles; things were going down fast. I was put on a Heart Balloon Pump for five days straight and over the next while, some improvements seemed to happen but the hot feverish bouts continued.
The family basically had ‘camped’ at the Coronary Care Unit, sleeping variously on chairs and on the floor. Lots of fast food was brought in to keep things going and turns were taken around the bed and there were times when my breathing was so intermittent as to cause serious alarm. Also at some stage there was a clot in the heart but in comparison with other things going on it didn’t get much attention and eventually dissolved itself. I was not always aware of all that was going on but my wife and family were totally devoted and dedicated to being there and doing whatever they could. There was an ever increasing circle of friends and community supporting the family with food and prayers.
By mid-May, after a second round of the Balloon Pump, it and various other lines were removed. Medical opinion indicated that there were ‘hours to live’.
So many people had been praying and one such prayer read to me was Psalm of David 118, verse 17: “I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord.”
My kidneys had not been functioning for four days when, inexplicably, some kidney function returned. There was still a great deal of concern however, as the blood samples showed severe blood poisoning and that night my heart started beating at over 200 beats per minute. Even after surviving such a night, there was huge concern that I would not survive the rounds of shock treatment needed to get my heart back into the correct rhythm. Finally, massive doses of Amiodarone settled my heart and the long, slow process of recovery started.
A Pace-maker/Defibrillator was fitted before I left the hospital in early July and I was on steroids, immunosuppressants and other assorted medications. There were a couple of visits back to hospital, but I had the absolute love of a wife who would not let go, and the total commitment of family, friends, community and hospital staff. By the start of 2006, I had an ejection fraction of 28% and was able to resume teaching part-time. Diagnosis by surgeons indicate that it was a case of Giant Cell Myocarditis, which means that my non heart-transplant survival is, as many have suggested – miraculous.