"Truly a Miracle": Strong Hospital performs three heart transplants in five days

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Strong Memorial Hospital averages 14 heart transplant surgeries each calendar year. That's a number doctors there say could increase if more people were organ donors.

Now, a busy five-day stretch in July at the hospital is reviving the importance of being an organ donor.

Last month, cardiac surgeons performed three successful heart transplant surgeries in just five days. Doctors there were prepared for the uptick in the complicated surgeries, but didn't think it would happen so quickly.

"We definitely didn't expect to have three heart transplants in five days. That truly is a miracle," said cardiologist Dr. Huma Vidula.

That's also how Tom Mancuso, one of the three recent heart recipients, feels about the process. He found himself in the hospital last year after suffering a heart attack, and that led to doctors telling him he'd need a newer, stronger heart.

"I've been healthy my whole life. This was basically a big shock," Mancuso said.

Fortunately for Mancuso, he only had to wait two weeks on the organ donor list before finding his match, as he fit ideal standards for size and blood type.

"That was my silver lining. Like, 'Eh, you need a heart, oh geeze.' But I was the right blood type and the right size, so I was a universal recipient," Mancuso said.

But that's not the case for everyone who ends up on a waiting list for a new heart.

"We have patients here who wait between two weeks to over a year depending on their blood type and size, so some patients have a much longer wait ahead of them," Dr. Vidula said.

Dr. Vidula says the hospital would like to see more heart transplants performed at the hospital. While factors, like location, can impact that number, so does the number of available organs waiting to be donated.

"As bad as it is for the other family, you're giving somebody a second chance, so I don't see why you wouldn't do it," Mancuso said.

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