Sep 19, 2013 8:52 AM by Kristen Holloway

A Mechanical Heart Gives One Duson Man Hope

Imagine living a regular, healthy life and then one day everything changes. We're talking about heart failure and that's exactly what happened to one Duson man.

As a matter of fact in February 2006 Joey Leger was having a massive heart attack and didn't even know it but one decision will change his life forever.

"I thought maybe I just had like chest congestion because it was the winter months so I waited till Monday to go to my regular doctor and he admitted me into the hospital and thats when they realized I was having a massive heart attack," said Leger.

After surgery in 2006 Joey was given a stent which is small mesh tube used to treat narrow or weak arteries.

"There's spider veins that have grown around the inclusion of the stent and that is basically keeping me alive but theres not enough blood going through those veins to get to the vital organs," said Leger.

Because of this Joey did some research and decided an implantable ventricular assist device or IVAD which is a total heart replacement is best option for him. Risky but could be the difference between life or death.

"Anything that we put in ito that body can cause infection, anytime we do heart surgery, bleeding and sometimes if we replace the left function of the heart, then the right side of the heart can fail," said Dr. Charles Wyatt Cardiovascular Surgeon at The Regional Medical Center of Acadiana.

The IVAD helps in two different cases, for those who it's their last option or for those like Joey who need time until a heart transplant can be found. Once the IVAD is implanted Joey will be left open for 48hrs.

"It's a technique to make sure that both the device implantation has worked as well as it has such a high risk of bleeding early on so if you close the chest captivity over where you've put in this new artificial heart and you get bleeding and it has no where else to go then you can get into some trouble," said Dr. Wyatt.

For Joey the IVAD is a lifesaving device. It will do 80% of the work and his heart will only have to do 20%.

"I'm just looking forward to getting back normal or what I consider normal, so lets just pray that it works," said Leger.

Doctors say the body naturally tries to reject the IVAD so they zip the immune system down to zero and patients are placed on anti-rejection drugs as long as the device is in the body.

Joey will undergo surgery next week. We'll keep you updated on his recovery. In the meantime a benefit will be held for him September 28th featuring bands, a live auction and food at Pop A Top's Lounge (1288 Smede Hwy Broussard, LA) Pre-admission and plate lunch tickets are on sale now for $5. Contact Jessie Reyes for info @337-356-9830.



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