Doc, patient recall heart transplant surgery 30 years later

INSIDER LOUISVILLE | Boris Ladwig

A photo from the state’s first heart transplant, completed by a team at Jewish Hospital in 1984. | Courtesy of KentuckyOne Health.
Kathy Anderson had just given life to two girls — but she was dying.

Anderson, of Brandenburg, Ky., was 20 when she delivered twin girls on March 17, 1987, but a deteriorating heart muscle had reduced the organ’s function to about 2 percent.

“She was in the process of dying,” said Dr. Laman A. Gray Jr., a former heart surgeon who today is the executive and medical director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute in Louisville.

Gray helped establish the heart transplant program in Louisville in the mid-1980s. Jewish Hospital was the state’s first institution to be designated as a federally approved heart, liver, lung and kidney transplant center.

On April 16, Anderson will celebrate the 30th anniversary of her heart transplant — together with her daughters, their husbands and her five grandchildren.

Anderson, now 50, recently told Insider that her pregnancy had worsened her cardiomyopathy, a weak and deteriorating heart muscle. The heart was not pumping enough blood, and she had trouble breathing.

It got to the point where she could not swallow and became disoriented.

“It was horrible,” Anderson recalled. “(It’s) the weakest you can be without being dead.” Continue reading

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