A tall, rugged twenty-year old at Rutgers University, Joe Deen spent a lot of time outdoors, hiking, backpacking and working at a Boy Scout camp. In 2006, he developed brachycardia, an unusually slow heartbeat, that doctors linked to Lyme disease. But when the tests for Lyme were inconclusive and the problem persisted, Joe received a pacemaker.
One year later, he was diagnosed with heart block and learned that he was in the early stages of congestive heart failure.
In 2009, just months after his graduation, Joe's heart wasn't pumping enough blood so Dr. Yoshifumi Naka performed an emergency LVAD surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia.