1 dead, 23 injured after tornado causes widespread damage near Gaylord

DMC reunites heart patients with their medical teams

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
DMC held it's second annual heart reunification with patients and medical teams on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018.

Detroit — Nearly 50 patients who survived heart attacks or heart failure gathered over the weekend to celebrate their recovery from health issues that once would have meant only limited options. 

Patients with advanced heart failure and other conditions gathered with their families at the Heart Hospital on Mack Avenue on Saturday with the medical teams that saved their lives.

The patients were given advanced treatment options of receiving Impella, one of the world's smallest heart pumps, which enables a patient’s heart to rest and potentially recover without invasive surgery, officials said.

Medical professionals demonstrated the Impella, small silver heart pump, given to nearly 1,400 patients over 10 years.

DMC was the first in Detroit to offer Impella 10 years ago. The center has  completed 1,400 procedures, said Dr. Amir Kaki. 

"We were one of the earliest to adopt this new form of cutting-edge technology and it's working," Kaki said. "It has an 80 percent survival rate and gives patients another option rather than open-heart surgery ... We take patients and give them hope." 

Detroiter Derrick Coleman was selected first overall in the 1990 NBA draft by the New Jersey Nets, but not many know he played for 10 years with congestive heart failure.

"I was diagnosed in 1995 while I was still playing," said Coleman, now retired. "I know it looks like athletes have it all together. I thought I was Superman, but I wasn't. Now I bring awareness to testing, diet, exercising and advocacy for heart patients."

Detroit native Derrick Coleman, retired NBA player and heart disease awareness advocate, shares his testimony with fellow patients.

Coleman said he was the first in his family to be diagnosed with congestive heart failure after a stress test. He later had to undergo 12 shocks to regulate his heart. 

"Doctors said if I didn't get better enough for a stint, I'd have to have a heart transplant," Coleman said. "They told me to stay in bed, but I got up because I knew I had a stubborn heart and I will not give up."

Dr. Tony Tedeschi, CEO of eight DMC hospitals, said the hospital's research teams continue to innovate and excel. 

"If you think back more than 50 years ago, the first medical heart pump was created here," he said. "Heart-care research is cutting-edge at DMC and it’s saving lives."

Ken Eichhorn, worked for 40 years as a social worker in Detroit Public Schools before he was diagnosed with reduced blood flow to his heart in February 2017.

"About five years ago, I was at the gym, which I normally went to about three times a week, and started to feel some chest discomfort," said Eichhorn, 70, of Detroit. "I later discovered it was the first sign of angina and had 100 percent blockage in my right lung."

Eichhorn feared having a cardiac catheterization but said the team at DMC was able to insert the device through his leg and avoid any invasive surgeries. 

"I’m more energetic now then I was 30 years ago," he said. 


Twitter: @SarahRahal_