Perry's Heart Transplant Story

My name is Perry Kapano and I am a heart transplant recipient. My story starts in July of 1998. I was at that time having a cholesterol problem and saw a local doctor in my community. I went on Lipitor and thought the problem was licked. About two weeks later I started having chest pains. I went back to the doctor only to be told I only had a pulled chest muscle. I was given a painkiller and sent home.

I returned 5 days later complaining of the same chest pain, and was given another drug. This went on for about 10 visits until I was given an in-clinic EKG. I was sent to the local hospital ER and was hooked up there too. I was told I had a minor imperfection but that it warranted no concern. They tried to take blood and they couldn't get any. I was released because another emergency was arriving and told to take more pills.

A few days later I went back to my local doctor and told him I have a serious problem. He told me I wasn't a doctor and gave more pills to me again. I went to the ER a second time and again was turned away.

I collapsed on my bathroom floor two days later. I was rushed to another hospital and then sent to another hospital because they had to perform open-heart surgery right away. I got worse and was air lifted to the U of M to be put on the transplant list. I went on ECMO [Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation] and stayed on for a week. My wife was told if a heart didn't come in soon they would have to take me off life support. My wife was told I had a 2% survival rate.

I received a heart 4 days later. I then took a stroke, had my kidneys shut down, and took a major rejection all in the same week. I stayed in the hospital for 5 weeks before I could go home.

As I write this it's been 4 years and I have had little or no problems since. I had CMV but that was treated and since then I have had no rejections. I know my story is not typical of heart transplants everywhere but it's my story nevertheless. The only advice I can offer on this site is to believe in your gut feelings and to listen to your own body. Don't always take the advice of one doctor; always get a second opinion.

Stay healthy and see you all around the board.