Anne Howell – Heart Transplant Patient

March 27, 2018

When Anne Howell underwent a heart transplant 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, and the luxury of watching her 2 sons grow into young men. Prior to that day in 2009, Anne assumed such things were out of her grasp.

“Before my transplant, simple things like brushing my teeth or holding a hair dryer exhausted me,” Anne recounted. "I just kept trying to feel like everyone else and keep up, but I couldn’t."

Praying for a Change

Anne had suffered for 2 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 2 young boys. Hobbies she pursued in the past, like running, were out of the question. As her condition worsened, it became clear to Anne that something had to change or she wasn’t going to make it.

“I felt like a 100-year-old; 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, Anne went through a bought of congestive heart failure that stopped responding to treatment. At that time she was put on the list for a heart transplant, an event that would radically change her life for the better. And Anne knows just who to thank for the life-saving heart transplant: “God, the donor and the phenomenal team at the Heart and Vascular Center,” she said.

World-class Care

Signing up for a heart transplant isn’t as simple as just putting your name on a list, said Anne. “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 and Vascular Center are much more than just up to snuff; they’re renowned for their care.

At Wake Forest Baptist, we have cardiologists who are nationally recognized experts in all areas of heart disease, including heart transplants. 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, 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’s Heart and Vascular Center from the pack as well, said Anne. For 2 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.

“So many doctors don’t know how to speak to patients or act like they care,” said Anne. “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 Anne. “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.”