29-Year-Old CPMC Heart Transplant Patient Heads Home
SAN FRANCISCO – At an event on Aug 14, 29-year-old Oakland resident, Mitch Peterson was recognized as CPMC’s 500th heart transplant recipient and celebrated for his speedy recovery. (News story here.) Staff and friends wished Mitch well as he prepared to head home after spending a month in the hospital. Mitch said that he is looking forward to stepping out the doors of the hospital, taking a deep breath and start enjoying the simple things that are often taken for granted. He is also looking forward to a walk around Oakland’s Lake Merritt, which is near his home, and enjoying the active lifestyle he was accustomed to before his illness.
Mitch had a relatively quick recovery after receiving a new heart at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) Van Ness Campus hospital just on Aug 2. Mitch’s heart failure had gone undiagnosed and symptoms came on quickly in early July resulting in him seeking care at Sutter Health. (Listen to comments from Mitch before surgery)
When 29 year old Oakland resident Mitch Peterson began experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue in early July, symptoms that he thought were the flu, he had no idea what was ahead. As his symptoms got worse, Mitch decided to get checked out at the emergency department at Sutter’s Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. It was at Eden that he learned his condition was much more serious than the flu.
The emergency department doctor at Eden told Mitch that he had heart complications and that he needed to be transferred to Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center where an elevated level of cardiac expertise was available to assess the extent of his condition. After spending time at Alta Bates Summit’s Oakland campus, where cardiologists applied medical therapies to stabilize his condition, it was clear that Mitch was suffering heart failure, probably due to damage suffered while undergoing chemotherapy in Wyoming for bone cancer years earlier when he was 13. (It was in Wyoming that he also had a cadaver bone transplant—his first transplant).
The doctors at Alta Bates Summit consulted with cardiologists at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC). Together, they determined that unfortunately, therapies such as medication would not address the heart failure Mitch was experiencing. The specialists told Mitch that his condition was life-threatening and required advanced treatment, possibly even a heart transplant. Mitch soon found himself at CPMC, on the heart donation waiting list and facing heart transplant surgery.
On the afternoon of Friday, August 2, the call came. A heart had become available. Late that evening, Mitch received a heart transplant at CPMC. During the operation, surgeons successfully connected the new donated heart, allowing Mitch to begin recovery and return to the active lifestyle that he once enjoyed.
Mitch has recovered remarkably quickly and will be going home from the hospital on Wednesday, August 14. It was only two days after surgery that he was out of bed on his own and moving around his room, a feat that he was unable to accomplish the week before surgery.
The integrated system of care at Sutter Health allowed for seamless escalation of Mitch’s care to address his congestive heart failure. This seamless coordination of medical and support services from one caregiver to another reduces complications in care, guarantees the continuum of quality and reduces the overall total cost of care. In Mitch’s case, the integrated care offered at Sutter Health was also life-saving.