Oak Lawn, Ill. – Some may remember Arthur Miller’s famous play, Death of a Salesman, which earned a Pulitzer for Drama and a Tony for Best Play. Well, the story you’re about to read has all the elements of that drama, but unfortunately it’s non-fiction.
Action! Who dies on their birthday? “Well, I did,” says Advocate Christ Medical Center heart transplant patient, Melody Hickman McIntosh, who graces the front cover of one of her sister’s bestsellers, Unexpected Interruptions, and says the title is synonymous with her life.
Last year, on her 40th birthday, Hickman McIntosh was barely “holding on to life,” as her lifeless body was placed on life support, her breathing supported only by a ventilator, after she suffered a massive heart attack. She laid in a coma for almost a month at a hospital near her Great Lakes home.
“I was on 24-hour dialysis; everything had shut down. The health care team at the hospital told my husband, Arthur, to gather the family and prepare to say ‘goodbye,’” says Hickman McIntosh.
On a life vest and defibrillator, Hickman McIntosh, however, was not ready to say “goodbye,” but she did need more advanced care than what her hospital could provide. That’s why she was transported to Christ Medical Center, where doctors determined that she required the implantation of an Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) to support her weakened heart.
“Melody was presented in advanced heart failure, so we implanted an LVAD, which is a bridge to heart transplantation,” says Dr. Geetha Bhat, Medical Director, Center for Heart Transplant and Assist Devices, Advocate Christ Medical Center. “After learning of her complex history, she was definitely at the ideal place; the cardiac surgery team took care of the patient without hesitation.”
In December 2012, Melody was placed on the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) heart transplant list awaiting a donor to be found.
“I was like any other woman, I was healthy and living life to the fullest,” says Hickman McIntosh. “My husband and I were excited about starting a family.”
Now, needing more acute advanced care, Melody sought out Advocate Christ Medical Center, rated a national leader in advanced heart care.
“We’re a cardiac surgery team capable of handling the most complex cases,” said Dr. Geetha Bhat.
Melody was on the LVAD for nearly a year when another unexpected life interruption took place – a hopeful one, this time. And, again it happened on Melody’s birthday – her 41st birthday (September 29th).
“In a million years, who dies on their birthday, and then a year later receives a heart transplant on their birthday? I can’t explain it,” muses Melody. “All I know is that prayers do get answered. This is the best birthday gift ever!”
Melody is now on a more personal journey. “I’m so thankful, so much so I want to do something for someone else, because someone gave me a second chance at life,” says Melody. “I’m taking good care of my new heart and obeying the doctor’s orders.”
At this point, Melody is considering adopting a child, while finding joy at taking on a few projects around the house and preparing her menu for the Thanksgiving meal.
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About Advocate Christ Medical Center
Advocate Christ Medical Center is part of Advocate Health Care, which is one of the nation’s leading health care networks. A not-for-profit, 694-bed, premier teaching institution with more than 1,000 affiliated physicians, Christ Medical Center is a leader in health care and one of the major referral hospitals in the Midwest in a number of specialties, including cardiovascular services, heart and kidney transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, orthopedics and women’s health. The hospital also has one of the busiest Level I trauma centers in Illinois providing emergency care for more than 90,000 patient visits annually and is a leader in breakthrough technologies, including eICU® (electronic intensive care unit) monitoring, robotic da Vinci Surgery System® and CyberKnife® Radiosurgery. In both 2012 and 2013, the medical center was named to the Truven Health 100 Top Hospitals®, while U.S. News & World Report ranked the medical center among the nation’s leading providers for cardiology and heart surgery and for geriatric medicine and ranked it fourth overall among hospitals in the state of Illinois. The hospital is also recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a Magnet Center. Magnet status represents the highest honor in the nursing profession. To obtain more information or to visit our newsroom, log on to: www.advocatehealth.com/christ