25 years after heart transplant, Lacassine man turns 75

KPLC | Britney Glaser

It was a story that made national headlines 25 years ago: a donated heart flown on a fighter jet from Michigan to New Orleans, giving new life to a critically ill Lacassine man.

Don Cormier turns 75 years old on July 17 and he shares what it means to make that milestone, and the 25th anniversary of his heart transplant.

It was June 1990: Cormier's family filled the front row seats of a news conference at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, just hours after he received a life-saving heart transplant.

Cormier had spent several months in the hospital, where he was the first Louisiana patient to receive a HeartMate implantable pump, buying him time while waiting on a heart. "It takes the blood from your body and it passes it through your heart," he said. "My heart was too weak to pump it. So it took the job of pumping it through my heart."

But after months of a machine doing the work his heart could not, Cormier's organs started suffering and his name was moved to the top of the transplant list as he waited in ICU. It was a trying time testing the Cormiers' faith. "I said, 'God...God we're going to do your will.'" Continue reading