Andy Cripe Mid-Valley Media
247 miles. Four and a half hours. That is how far, and how long, Dianna Howell trekked for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Howell suffered a heart attack and very close call in 1996, as well as a collapse at work in 2016. After a visit to the Mayo Clinic, their team concluded she had a rare form of apical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Shortly after, she was admitted to the heart transplant program at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), however even with a suitable donor, the procedure was called off at the last second when her doctors discovered she had an undiagnosed ulcer.
It didn’t help that in just one year later, OHSU would no longer be supporting their heart transplant program.
“As a transplant community, we felt a responsibility to take care of those patients,” said Dr. Daniel Fishbein, head of the heart transplant program here at the Heart Institute.
While other former patients at OHSU were admitted into other transplant programs, Howell’s complex condition meant her facilities were wary to take on her case due to the high chance of failure. It wasn’t until our heart transplant team took a chance on Howell, and placed her on the waiting list.
September rolled around, and by the end of the week, her surgery was completed.
It hasn’t been an easy road post-surgery for Howell, however, dealing with atrial fibrillation and other various complications for the past few weeks. The Heart Institute continues to keep a close eye on her, making sure to keep her near the UW Medical Center a few days a week to make sure her recovery is progressing as it should.
Nevertheless, Howell is growing stronger day by day, finally able to shed off the oxygen tank and wheelchair bound to her for the past two years. Her gratefulness for this opportunity, and most importantly the 45-year-old donor whose information was not shared with anyone, is what keeps her optimistic about the future.
A long list of Oregon State Beaver basketball and football games awaits Howell this upcoming season as she regains full strength, but if one this is for sure, we’ll always be cheering her on and making sure she is as strong as a Husky.
To learn more about Howell and Dr. Fishbein’s transplant, read the full article on the Gazette Times.