March 24, 2008
New heart makes perfect birthday gift
By Carol Clark
Terry Green was born at Emory University Hospital on March 20, 1947. He recently returned to the hospital to undergo a heart transplant, recovering in time to celebrate his 61st birthday at home with his family.
“If I’m not reborn, I’ve at least been given a new lease on life,” Green said at a March 19 press conference, marking his status as the hospital’s 500th heart transplant patient. “I fully intend to enjoy this second go-round.”
Flanked by his wife, Danette, David Vega, surgical director of Emory’s heart transplant program and S. Raja Laksar, his primary cardiologist, Green described how a combination of factors led to “a sudden meltdown” of his heart near the end of 2006. He went on the transplant waiting list, and checked into the hospital earlier this year when his condition deteriorated. Nine days after the March 8 transplant surgery he was able to leave the hospital.
“I’m mighty grateful for everything the Emory doctors and staff have done for me,” said Green, a Lawrenceville resident and the father of 31-year-old twins. “They got my bacon out of the fire.”
“This is a huge milestone for us,” Vega said of the 500th heart transplant. Emory is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its heart transplant program — the largest and most comprehensive in the state of Georgia, with patient survival rates higher than the national average.
In addition to 500 adult heart transplants, Emory Clinic cardiothoracic surgeons have performed more than 200 pediatric heart transplants at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Emory is also driving the development of other therapy options for heart failure, including the implantation of artificial heart pumps, or ventricular assist devices.
An avid sports fan and a long-time folk dancer, Green is now undergoing rehabilitation to regain strength lost in his legs during the weeks of hospitalization. “It’s just a matter of cinching up your bootstraps and getting back to doing what you do, enjoying life,” he said.