Myocarditis Survivor Serves on the Myocarditis Foundation Board of Directors
Joe Considers Himself a Walking Miracle
“Who’s got it better than me? I’m a walking miracle.”
These are the words of New Jersey heart transplant patient Joseph Rumore, 57. Having received a new heart on his birthday, November 24, 2006, Rumore’s actions prove that he means what he says, “You can choose to be down in the dumps, or you can decide to look at this as an opportunity.”
Aside from exercising at least three times a week, Rumore has carefully charted out a life that includes disciplined nutrition, a rigid education routine, and devoting much of his time to the Myocarditis Foundation.
As a member of the foundation’s Board of Directors, Rumore uses his business background to help the organization administer a program that returns ninety-five cents of each donated dollar to research grants and education.
Every lifestyle choice made by Rumore is decided upon by weighing the risk factors involved. This includes decisions on where he walks, works, plays, dines and exercises. “Exercise is one of the most important things I had to integrate into my life,” he says.
Because the anti-rejection medication he takes represses his immune system, Rumore says he has to be much more aware of his environment. “I chose to exercise at the gym because of how clean both the staff and the members keep the place. Also, their cardio machines let me monitor my heart rate, and they have the paddles. I also know that the personal trainers are watching out for me. Rumore explains. “I lead a perfectly active life.”
Rumore had always lived an athletic lifestyle and never had clogged arteries or any of the other conditions usually associated with heart disease. He says that when he was playing a college basketball game in the late seventies, he started feeling ill. A subsequent cardiogram showed an abnormality, but everything soon went back to normal, and he didn’t give it any more thought.
Then, in 1989, his symptoms of fatigue and lethargy returned. His wife, Genevieve, a nurse, pushed for more high-profile tests. The results showed congestive heart failure, with a possibility of myocarditis. Rumore continued to live as comfortably as possible on medication under the watchful eye of Genevieve.
Then, in 2004, his health declined rapidly. His heart ejection fraction went as low as 9 percent. Ejection fraction is the measurement of the capacity of the heart to pump. A normal ejection fraction is 50% to 70%. In 2006, Joe received a donor heart and began the long road of recovery.
Rumore’s ejection fraction with his new heart is 63%. “We can all learn a lot from Joe”, adds a friend. “He’s living proof that we can overcome great odds with a plan and a great attitude. He’s not only an inspiration for other transplant patients, but an inspiration for all of us.”