Patient Anne Howell
When Anne Howell underwent a heart transplant here at Wake Forest Baptist Health, she didn't just get a new heart; she received a number of intangible gifts—the strength to do everyday tasks, the freedom to set goals, the luxury of watching her two sons grow into young men. Prior to that October day in 2009, Howell assumed such things were out of her grasp.
“Before my transplant, simple things like brushing my teeth or holding a hair dryer exhausted me,” Howell recounted. "I just kept trying to feel like everyone else and keep up, but I couldn’t."
Praying for a Change
Howell had suffered for two decades with an enlarged heart, a condition that had already claimed the life of her mother and threatened the health of her sister. She spent most of that time just trying to survive and raise two young boys. Hobbies she pursued in the past, like running, were out of the question. As her condition worsened, it became clear to Howell that something had to change or she wasn’t going to make it.
“I felt like a 100-year old person; I felt like I had the flu every day,” said the 46-year-old. “Just getting out of bed every morning was really tough for me.”
In late 2008, Howell went through a bought of congestive heart failure that stopped responding to treatment. It was at this time that she was put on the list for a transplant, an event that would radically change her life for the better. And Howell knows just who to thank for the life-saving transplant: “God, the donor and the phenomenal team at the Heart Center,” she said.
Signing up for a transplant isn’t as simple as just putting your name on a list, said Howell. “This transplant process is a total team effort. They won't even let you be on the list if your team isn’t in place and up to snuff.”
Of course, the physicians and staff at the Heart Center are much more than just up to snuff; they’re renowned for their care. In fact, the center was recently designated as a “high performer” in Cardiology and Heart Surgery by U.S.News & World Report in its annual ranking of best hospitals.
This high rating is due to the combination of experience, expertise and teamwork the doctors and staff of the Heart Center bring to their jobs every day. They seek out the latest medical advancements, build on quality initiatives and ensure each patient is treated as an individual.
At Wake Forest Baptist Health, we have cardiologists who are nationally recognized experts in all areas of heart disease. As part of an academic medical center, our patients benefit from the most modern technology and the results of the latest research.
Neal Kon, MD, professor of Surgical Sciences (Cardiothoracic Surgery) and Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery, agrees. “Because we’re an academic medical center, we take on all types of cardiac surgery—including the most complex,” he said.
Bedside Manner Matters
Other factors differentiate Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Heart Center from the pack as well, said Howell. For two decades, it has been her home away from home, but she has also experienced other medical centers and clinics. Those visits made her more appreciative of the care she receives at Wake Forest Baptist Health.
“So many doctors don’t know how to speak to patients or act like they care,” said Howell. “At Wake Forest Baptist, I feel they work hard at putting you at ease. Particularly when it came to the transplant process, I felt so connected with the team there.
“They have no idea how much I appreciate them,” continued Howell. “I have my life back, and it's even better than it was before … I recently ran a mini triathlon. I’m going to be able to watch my children grow up and get their driver’s licenses. I have been given the greatest gift. I have a second chance at life, and the quality of life is more than I could hope for.”