Myocarditis Survivor Serves on the Myocarditis Foundation Board of Directors
Joe Considers Himself a Walking Miracle
Mine is a long story…in 1972, at the age of 18, I developed chest pain and shortness of breath while playing college basketball. My parents took me to a cardiologist who had no idea what to do with me. I was young, healthy and athletic, not the normal cardiac patient that they were used to. They referred me to a pediatric cardiologist who did a full workup and found my coronary arteries clear, but that I had a very enlarged heart. They told me that my condition was all related to the fact that I had mononucleosis in high school, which affected my heart muscle. After a period of rest and decreased activity I felt better and resumed my activities.
25 years later, I was treated for “pneumonia.“ I was given antibiotics and had a “relapse” of the “pneumonia” a few weeks later. I was given an inhaler to deal with the shortness of breath, and more antibiotics. My family was in the process of moving and I was too weak to help. One morning I woke up with severe shortness of breath and ankle edema. My wife took me go to a cardiologist, who hospitalized me and conducted an immediate workup. He told my wife that I had severe cardiomyopathy and would need a heart transplant in the near future. He would “keep me as comfortable as he could” with medications until then, to control the symptoms of heart failure. After 6 years, my heart failure really started to worsen; I could no longer work and it had gotten to the point of me being unable to walk across a room without being exhausted and unable to breathe.
I received my gift of life, a heart transplant, on Thanksgiving Day, 2006. The autopsy of my diseased heart confirmed viral myocarditis.
I thank the donor’s family every day of my continued life for their generosity that has allowed me to see my children married, and my grandchildren grow. I became involved with the Myocarditis Foundation shortly after my transplant. The mission of the Myocarditis Foundation is to work on raising funds, to promote awareness and provide for research grants that will further knowledge so as to put an end to this horrid disease that takes mostly young healthy children and young adults.
It is my hope that no one should have to go through this experience.
I was a lucky one to have survived, and I will always be thankful.