Don's Story

Heart & Vascular Care
“Today Don enjoys walking to the park with Cheyenna and teaching her about their Anishinabe heritage. Recently, as Cheyenna proudly counted "andek” (crows), Don savored the moment, feeling thankful for another chance to witness his granddaughter growing up a little more each day.”

Inspired By the Heart

Don Stone, 65, faced a decision. Did he want to live or die?

End-stage heart failure ravaged his body, ballooning his weight and hindering breathing so a walk down the stairs to the laundry became difficult. Traditionally those in his situation had two options: hospice or heart transplant.

His cardiologist, Jamie Pelzel, MD, CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center, offered an alternative. When a heart is unable to pump enough blood on its own, a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), also known as a mechanical heart pump, can pump the blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An LVAD can prolong life, in some instances for more than 10 years, when transplant isn’t an immediate option.

The LVAD system has parts that work inside and outside the body. Inside, a heart pump is attached to the left side of the heart. Outside, a controller, batteries, and driveline help to power and control the heart pump.