Steve Williams, 55, is a Total Artificial Heart (TAH) and Heart Transplant survivor and also our family’s Angel. I first met Steve Williams on a Monday, in the ICU after my dad’s TAH implantation surgery (February 2016). When I saw his kind, smiling face at the door, I knew exactly who he was—the man from the article! I couldn't believe it.
Before my dad’s surgery, I feverishly researched everything I could find on the TAH. Thankfully, I found an article from The Verge (a technology, science, art and culture site), which shared Steve’s journey to transplant. At this point, the most helpful parts of this article were the photos showcasing life with a TAH. Steve was photographed walking along the beach, playing with his dog, and relaxing in his backyard. I used these images to create a simple TAH presentation to share with my family, friends and other patients in the ICU. Why? Because no one knows what a TAH is unless you or your loved one needs one.
Steve, a dedicated volunteer at Cedars Sinai, took the time to visit my dad and speak with my family about his experience with TAH. Speaking with someone who went through a similar journey gave us a true sense of hope to look forward towards transplant. Steve was often around watching over my dad. When he got transferred out of the ICU, Steve would visit us in the "step down unit" and also in rehab. (My dad's heart was in very bad shape and requires serious physical therapy even today).
Currently, Steve is fifteen months post-transplant and “doing pretty good”.
Steve’s Bridge-to-Heart-Transplant Timeline:
April 2014 – Received the TAH
May 2014—Suffered a stroke
April 2015 – Received a new heart
“I am still trying to get my old strength back - surfing and tennis. But I walk 2-5 miles a day, went camping/hiking in the mountains (9,000 to 11,000 feet) and golfing again. I still have some problems but I am thankful to be alive!
I volunteer at Cedars and yesterday I went to a deli to buy a patient some food. It felt great to help him as he is from NY and has limited help in LA. He was frustrated about his food situation. I also spoke to another patient who did not have a TAH or LVAD. He was amazed with his new heart and could feel the difference (strength of the beating). This has been a pretty consistent feeling of patients going from their bad heart to a new heart. I have spoken to other TAH patients that post-transplant, they did not feel a significant change. I bring this up because the TAH works as behaving like a “good heart”. Thus the TAH helps people get more heart health function - heart rate, kidney and liver health.
Life leading up to heart transplant and heart transplant themselves can sap a lot of your strength. It will take time and effort to regain strength.”
My dad is scheduled to leave the hospital today, 12 days after surgery. We are forever thankful for the support from the staff at Cedars Sinai and also from our friend Steve. My family will always have him in our hearts and hope he continues to do well with his heart transplant.
Read Steve’s journey to heart transplant here.