INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT Healthcare “My wife, Judy, and I were contemplating the fact that we were getting close to the end of our stay, when the doctor came in,” Filer remembers. “He said, ‘You are going to be very busy tonight.’ That’s what the doctor told me that Friday night.” Filer’s physicians warned him that they wouldn’t know for certain that the transplant could happen until the heart was evaluated by Dr. McKinnon and found to be suitable for him. Filer and his wife called family and friends, including their daughter, Anne, keeping their minds off the impending surgery by staying busy on the phone and spreading the news. Meanwhile, organ donation teams were working with several different care teams to coordinate the harvesting of other organs that the donor would be giving to other patients in need. “It is a complicated process getting this all coordinated,” explained Dr. Peltz, surgical director of Cardiac Transplantation at UT Southwestern. “We are just one organ out of potentially multiple different organs from a donor. For the organ bank, it’s a complicated process getting this organized. Often, there are flights, ambulances -- many types of transportation involved. This goes on for the lung team, liver team, pancreas, intestines, etc. Logistics are quite involved for the organ bank and getting all these people in the right place at the right time to maximize the number of organs we are able to procure from a donor.” The donor’s heart was deemed a match for Filer, and he was taken to the OR at St. Paul to be given a new lease on life through the gift of organ donation. Dr. Peltz removed the diseased heart, replacing it with the donor’s heart in Filer’s chest. Once blood flow was started, the heart began beating on its own. Under the watchful care of the cardiac teams at St. Paul, Filer began a successful recovery that, he says, couldn’t have gone better. “There are three things that make a heart transplant successful,” Filer said. “One, a donor family. I cannot say enough about them; second, supportive family and friends; and third, a wonderful group of medical professionals. We had all those. They had our back.” Today, more than a year out from his successful heart transplant, this 70year-old grandfather of four keeps himself busy with his family and friends, swimming, hiking, as well as his work, which he finds rewarding. “It has been incredible. I wake up most mornings and pinch myself because Wes and Judy Filer. I want to make sure I’m living this dream. When talking about the life-giving decision that the donor family made to donate their loved one’s organs, Filer is moved beyond words. He has written the family a letter through the Southwest Transplant Alliance, and he hopes to one day express his appreciation in person. “I can’t say enough,” he says. “It’s very emotional for me. There’s no doubt that I would not be alive if not for that donor family and great medical professionals. I could not be more proud of the work of the people at UT Southwestern.” “I think the real heroes here are the donors and the families that make that happen,” said Dr. Peltz. “It’s a decision that the families make that can impact many lives, in a time when they are in distress and grieving. The decision is very special. Texas has one of the fastest-growing donor registries in the country. I think if someone wants to be an organ donor, they should join the registry.” Smiles all around with Wes’s grandchildren. 46 www.ntc-dfw.org Winter/Spring 2015 Dr. Peltz and Wes Filer ask that everyone who reads this story consider the miracle of organ donation. To learn more about organ donation and how you and your family members can make your wishes known, please visit www.DonateLifeTexas.org.