The University of Rochester Medical Center believes in love. At least, the people in its Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation do. A Sept. 29 press release details how two heart transplant recipients met and fell in love while in the program. Both have new hearts, thanks to transplants, and both have a new love.
Danny Pszczolkowski was waiting for a new heart in the fall of 2010. The hospital grapevine let him know that a new female patient had been admitted to the cardiac unit, and he was curious. That patient was Esther FitzRandolph, suffering from a complication from her heart transplant.
They met, and talked, and made a connection. Esther traveled back and forth from her home in Buffalo for medical appointments at the hospital. Each trip, the two found time to visit and become closer.
Pszczolkowski had to wait until April, 2011, for his heart transplant. During the wait, the hospital says, he was encouraged by his friend. Waiting for a transplant is often frustrating, and like with Danny, the wait can go on for months.
Whether by chance or by plan, the two kept meeting. They bumped into each other at cardiac rehab. The saw each other at the blood lab. Pszczolkowski sought the aid of cardiac transplant coordinator Liz Powley, N.P. to obtain Esther’s phone number. Esther said OK to the request and Powley gave the number to him.
She repeatedly gave the number to him. Danny kept losing it, until he finally connected with Esther. They texted each other for months, according to the story.
Heart failure cardiologist Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., said Cupid’s arrow can be good for the heart, citing studies that show married people live longer than single people.
The first heart transplant was performed Dec. 3, 1967. In the nearly 50 years since, these transplants have become nearly a routine part of treatment for heart failure. The University of Rochester Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation states that it has performed over 165 transplants since 2001. The hospital is also a leader in the implantation of ventricular assist devices, which aid the heart in pumping blood.
The American Heart Association notes that you can die of a broken heart, not physical damage, but the emotional stress of a loss. A March 2014 article from University of Utah Health Services states “Marriage is good for the heart…” It is clear that a patients mood and outlook has a great deal to do with the successful outcome of their surgery and their future recovery.
“I definitely think that the two of them together has made them better, and actually they’re doing better together than they ever have,” said Chen, director of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation. “Our team had been seeing them individually before we learned that they were a couple and we all noticed their improvements. If it’s being in love, it works. It works for them.”
The hospital has no plans to create a patient dating service, but in this case, the people in the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation fixed more than just two broken hearts.