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Richard Fisher | A Failing Heart Gets a Lift

In 1987, Richard Fisher had his first open heart surgery. Then, in 2001, he had his second. “My heart’s always been an issue,” he says. “I felt like there was always a problem, and I was seeing a doctor all the time. But, I learned to live with it.”

In the years following his second surgery, Richard’s once active life began to slow down. The now 71-year-old retired from his job as a truck driver for the Post-Gazette. He started reading more and spent additional time with his family. He also enjoyed going out to lunch several times a week with close friends. “I was really having a good time being retired, and just living my life as best I could,” he says.

But, despite multiple surgeries to keep Richard’s heart strong, it was slowly losing its strength. And Richard was feeling the effects. “I started becoming very short of breath, all the time,” he says. “I was having difficulty walking up the stairs, and even walking outside to the car became difficult. I became very limited in what I could do, and I knew something wasn’t right.”

"Since the surgery, I've been feeling like I'm back to my old self."

Time for the Assist

Looking for a solution, Richard was referred to Robert Kormos, MD, director of the UPMC Artificial Heart Program. Testing showed that Richard was suffering from congestive heart failure, meaning his heart muscle wasn’t pumping blood efficiently enough to meet his body’s needs. Because of this, fluid was also building up in Richard’s lungs, causing his shortness of breath. Dr. Kormos recommended that Richard undergo a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implant procedure, which is designed to help the heart’s weakened left ventricle - the major pumping chamber of the heart - pump blood throughout the body.

“This was the best solution for Richard to get his heart healthy again,” says Dr. Kormos. “Because of his prior surgeries and age, he was not considered a candidate for a transplant. So this method was seen as an alternative to transplant, and would provide Richard’s heart with the long-term support it needs.”

After the surgery, Richard immediately felt the effects of the LVAD. “I remember going home from the hospital and not being short of breath anymore,” he says. “It was a great feeling.”

Now, more than two years after the surgery, Richard enjoys being able to live his life the way he chooses. “Since the surgery, I’ve been feeling like I’m back to my old self,” he says. “I just got back from Florida, and I go shopping with my wife all the time. Basically, I can do whatever I want. And I can’t be happier for that.”


Richard Fisher
Dr. Robert Kormos
Cardiac Surgeon