Dwayne Teach

I Feel Incredibly Lucky to Be Alive

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Dwayne Teach Pic2.jpgMy name is Dwayne Teach and I feel incredibly lucky to be alive to share my story with you today. I had a massive pulmonary embolism in 2007 followed by a gastric bypass in 2009.  Three years ago I received a new heart and could not be more grateful for the care delivered by the University of California, San Francisco.

In the matter of a week, my entire life changed. It all began with flu-like symptoms on a Monday. I was feeling much worse by Thursday so I decided to go to the hospital. After checking in at my local hospital in Fortuna I was transferred to a larger institution in Eureka. On Friday doctors put a stent in my heart. Saturday morning I was airlifted to UCSF where I was placed in a medically induced coma. Doctors told me I should have never survived the flight.

I was in a coma for 10 days, hooked up to a bypass machine. After 3 days my caregivers told my daughter they’d done everything they could for me, but I continued to fight and I survived. It was as if I was a celebrity. No one expected me to make it. When I woke up I had near complete amnesia and the only person I recognized was my daughter who hadn’t left my side. Slowly but surely with her help my memory started coming back.

I spent the next seven months hooked up to a ventricular assistance device or VAD (a mechanical circulatory device that is used to partially or completely replace the function of a failing heart). I was lucky enough to find a donor match and underwent a successful heart transplant on May 26, 2012. That was twelve months ago. I have no signs of rejection and I feel great.

I can’t say enough about my experience with the UCSF faculty and staff. The institution is world-class and it is because of their knowledge, care, expertise and research that I am alive today. Drs. Scott Merrick, George Wieselthaler and nurse Anne Fukano are people that I will never forget. Anne often refers to me as one of her “star” heart transplant patient and commends me for knowing my medications and staying on top of my follow-up care. The UCSF team of physicians listened, supported and really understood what I was going through.

I am eternally grateful to the tremendous physician-scientists who are providing the best and most advanced patient care possible. I am living proof that the gift of life is possible through transplantation at UCSF.

Tags: Heart Transplant
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