What Makes a Donor Heart Available for Transplant Was Almost a 'Deal Breaker' for Pastor Who Needed One to Save His Life

Virtual Pree Office | PR Newswire

A Massachusetts pastor supported by the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart for four months vows to live a life worthy of the person whose heart donation gave him a second chance at life

TUCSON, Ariz., Aug. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Jim LaFontaine tries to live a life worthy of the person who donated the heart that gave the Essex, Massachusetts resident a second chance at life after he received a SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart implant that bridged him to that donor heart.

LaFontaine, 57, admits that while waiting for that matching donor heart, he struggled with the concept of receiving one.

"It was almost a deal breaker when I realized what someone had to do for me to receive a donor heart," says LaFontaine, a pastor at Emmanuel Community Church in Essex. "For me to receive a human heart means that someone is going to die. I can never in good conscience wish for a heart to come in.

"If the SynCardia Heart wasn't just a bridge to transplant, if it was the destination, I think I would have considered just having a mechanical heart."

When LaFontaine was 30 years old, a routine physical exam revealed a heart murmur. Eventually a cardiologist discovered that he was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, a condition that lessens the amount of blood flow to his entire body. Continue reading