Patient Stories

"With HCM, it isn't easy finding the balance between what you can do, and what might set you back," says Pam Fleischaker. "You have to keep on going and use the energy you have, but you've always got to be careful not to overdo it." With this philosophy, Pam has succeeded in balancing a demanding career and raising a family, and her son Joey, who also carries the HCM gene, has blazed a trail in the world of sports.
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By age 23, Fanny Powers was on dialysis, and dangerously underweight, having dropped to 92 pounds. She underwent a Kidney transplant at NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia, and went on to have two healthy babies.
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Kidney swaps enable incompatible donors to give to strangers, in return for a matched kidney that can help their own loved ones or family members. The chain of giving can start with a single altruistic donor. Thirty-nine-year-old Long Island firefighter John McGuinness recently became the lynchpin in a rare three-way kidney swap, performed at NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia.
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Brooklyn newborn Jordan Trimarchi received a second chance at life, when an anonymous gift of a replacement heart was transplanted into his tiny body by Dr. Jan M. Quaegebeur. Exactly a year later, on January 26, 2006, Jordan was back at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. But this time he and his parents came to celebrate the child's excellent health and normal development with his doctors.
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"Thank you a thousand times over for your selfless commitment to medicine and to your fellow human beings," writes Susan Balcirak in a letter to the CLDT team. Her son, Dean Balcirak III, had a living donor liver transplant on March 15th of 2004. He was 7½ months old. Dean's father, Dean Balcirak II, donated a portion of his own liver for the transplant. One year post-transplant, Dean's mother writes, "Dean truly is a normal little boy. He is a good size and growing fast, a typical toddler. We look back at a picture of him before his transplant and can't believe he is the same kid."
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"Miracles happen. I believe that how I survived liver failure was a miracle, and it continues to affect me and those around me," writes Regina Williams, a retired college teacher. Gina went into liver failure from undetected autoimmune liver disease and had a transplant in 2004. Her son, Paul Mladineo, donated a portion of his own liver for the transplant. Several years post transplant, Regina is thriving "Paul and I are doing great, livers functioning perfectly," she says.
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Growing up, Lisa Goetze always detested gym class. "I never liked to sweat. I believed running was pointless unless you were being chased by someone with a knife." In fact, running was never an option for Ms. Goetze. For her, the mere act of walking was a battle. Throughout her life Ms. Goetze had struggled with morbid obesity. Her world as an adult consisted of commuting from home to work, and work to home. Venturing anywhere beyond those places was rare and extremely difficult because at 550 pounds she could only stand for a limited amount of time. In 2000, Ms Goetze underwent gastric bypass surgery—a decision that changed her life, and more importantly, her attitude regarding healthy living and remaining active. Today, she is a 32-year-old full-time business professional and part-time personal trainer in Bergen County, New Jersey. After a very long and difficulty journey, she has learned to appreciate a full routine and a little sweat in her life.
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