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Patient returns to hospital to thank the team and the latest technology that saved his life

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Don Abrams and his wife, Chari, reunite with the medical team that gave him an Impella CP heart pump. After a series of heart attacks, Abrams now feels fine as he thanks the team from Mercy Hospital for their lifesaving work. Photo courtesy of Catholic Health

Don Abrams, a 75-year-old retired engineer and geologist from Buffalo, returned to Mercy Hospital on July 26 to thank the physicians and caregivers who saved his life in February 2020. He was also appreciative for the “world’s smallest heart pump” that allowed him to eventually recover. Hosted by the hospital and Abiomed, which produces the Impella heart pump device, the reunion was a rare and rewarding opportunity for Abrams’ caregivers to see him back to his normal life and to be recognized for the important jobs they do each day.

When Abrams arrived at the Catholic Health Heart Center at Mercy Hospital, he was diagnosed with cardiogenic shock, a life-threatening condition often caused by a heart attack in which a person’s heart suddenly can’t pump enough blood to maintain heart function. Performing a non-surgical, catheter-based heart procedure, interventional cardiologist Dr. Eram Chaudhry implanted an Impella CP® heart pump. Known as “the world’s smallest heart pump,” the Impella is minimally-invasive device designed to provide temporary support after heart failure or a heart attack.

While recovering in the ICU, Abrams suffered another cardiac arrest. This time, doctors determined he needed a higher level of support and the larger Impella 5.0 heart pump, was implanted by the cardiac surgery team. Abrams was then later transferred to University of Rochester Medical Center that operates the only Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Center in Upstate New York for the level of care he needed. He returned home three weeks later on St. Patrick’s Day with his very own recovered heart.

“I am so thankful to be to be alive and here today,” said Abrams addressing the doctors and nurses at the reunion. “I am feeling fine and recently traveled to see my grandchildren for the first time since December of 2019. I was able to dance with my 2-year-old granddaughter. She is a better dancer than I am,” he joked.

Abrams wife, Chari, who accompanied him, added, “You have been the best people to me as I was going through this crisis. You saved my husband and you saved me through your compassion – we thank you very much from the bottom of our hearts.”

Chaudhry said she was happy to have the chance to see her former patient doing so well and for having this innovative technology available at the Heart Center. “I am grateful to Mercy Hospital and Catholic Health for allowing us to carry out our vision and our work that we do on a daily basis.”  

Mercy Hospital President Eddie Bratko acknowledged the entire Mercy Hospital team for the work they do each day. “We are very proud of our doctors, nurses and all our caregivers who are committed to high quality care,” he said. “Don’s story is another testament of not only the professionalism and expertise of our staff, but the compassion we show to our patients and their families on a daily basis.”     

Mercy Hospital is one of the more than 2,000 hospitals in the United States that use Impella products. The Impella platform of products were developed by Abiomed Inc., based in Danvers, Massachusetts.

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