Triathlete Transplant – Mayo Clinic

Vivian Williams: This is a story of the power of perseverance and love. A man named Kevin Lou was a triathlete who developed a rare disease that caused his heart to fail. In a matter of months, he went from intense competition to barely being able to walk. He needed a heart transplant. In addition to his new heart, he got a lot more.

Kevin Lue: Well, Maureen likes to run. That is how we met.

Vivian: Running and competing in triathlons are passions for Kevin Lou, but when a disease called giant cell myocarditis caused his heart to fail.

Kevin: I couldn’t believe how weak I was.

Vivian: Everything stopped.

Kevin: I pretty much got dizzy and just passed out.

Vivian: The cause of giant cell myocarditis is unknown. It results in the immune system attacking the heart.

Farris Timimi, M.D. — Mayo Clinic cardiologist: He presented with a disease that his body attacked his own heart and destroyed it. Destroyed his heart function to the point where it was negligible, but since he was in such phenomenal shape, he could still do things that he shouldn’t have been able to do.

Vivian: But eventually, Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Timimi says Kevin’s heart deteriorated to the point where he needed a heart transplant.

Dr. Timimi: I think if Kevin hadn’t been in the shape he was, he would have died.

Vivian: A heart was not available immediately. Doctors implanted what is called a ventricular assist device, a mechanical pump that kept Kevin’s heart going.

Kevin: We didn’t actually know to think that this would ever end.

Vivian: They waited and waited and while they waited, Kevin and Maureen made a wonderful decision. To set a date for their wedding.

Kevin: The date was determined by when the best man and our family could be there.

Vivian: Even Dr. Timimi attended but the most exciting moment came the day after their vows.

Kevin: We were downloading the photos from the cameras when they called and said “Are you in town?” I said “yeah.” and they said, “Well, we have a match.” I said (laughing) “Oh, okay. I’ll be there!”

Vivian: What a wedding gift! The gift of life.

Maureen Lue: 48 more years, right? We have to be married 48 more years so that we can celebrate our golden anniversary.

Vivian: And now that Kevin is fully recovered, he and Maureen can share their passion for running and love for each other.

Kevin: I’ve done four half marathons already this year and a triathalon so I’m doing much better.

Dr. Timimi: I think his story is a testimony to both his intrinsic reserve and for power of love. I really do.

For Medical Edge, I’m Vivian Williams.