At a Glance:
Despite two bouts of rheumatic fever as a teen, which caused damage to Randy’s heart, sports and fitness have always been part of his life. As an adult, he played semi-professional baseball for a year in Phoenix, participated in a slow-pitch softball league, lifted weights, practiced archery and shot firearms.
However, in 2009, Randy began suffering from fatigue, loss of appetite and a declining desire to do what he loved. Over the next four years, his condition continued to deteriorate, and by June 2013, Randy’s heart was giving out and he was just days from death. To save his life, doctors removed his failing heart and replaced it with the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH).
“We put it off longer than we should have,” Randy admits. “I was young and active, so we kind of underestimated my heart failure.”
In 2014, Randy completed the 4.2 mile “Pat’s Run” in Tempe, Arizona, while supported by the SynCardia TAH.
After Randy recovered from his implant surgery and became clinically stable, he was switched to the Freedom® Portable Driver and discharged from the hospital to wait for his matching donor heart at home with his family.
Once home, Randy worked on regaining his strength by walking and doing light weightlifting. He also resumed attending church services and doing activities that he and his family enjoyed, such as archery and baseball. His wife, Tiffany, went with him on half-mile-long walks around the neighborhood and on desert trails.
“I feel like I’m in training right now,” said Randy while on the SynCardia TAH. “I look at my heart transplant as an athletic event that I’m training for.”
In 2014, Randy decided to challenge himself and prove that he was fit enough to do Pat’s Run with the TAH. The annual walk/run held in Tempe, Arizona, honors fallen soldier and NFL football player Pat Tillman. On April 26, 2014, Randy walked the 4.2-mile course with Tiffany, completing the course in one hour and 40 minutes, carrying the Freedom Driver in the Backpack.
“I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone,” Randy said. “I wanted to prove that I could do it even though I’ve been handed circumstances that might not be the best.”
After 15 months of life with the SynCardia TAH, Randy received the heart transplant he’d been waiting for. He was discharged from Banner – University Medical Center Tucson just a few weeks later.
Randy credits the TAH for allowing him to build muscle that strengthened him for the transplant. “I had that reserve to get up and get around,” he said. “Basically, my life gets to start again.
“With the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, I wouldn’t have made it past June 2013. I will be forever grateful for that.”