Even in a pandemic, modern medicine is still changing lives.
The cardiology transplant team at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas has performed its 1,000th heart transplant. It's a life-saving procedure, to which 25-year-old Kennedy Ngungutau can attest.
Ngungutau was 22-years-old when he was diagnosed with heart failure. After he exhausted treatment efforts, he eventually developed a blood clot in his heart and was added to the heart transplant list.
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His wait lasted just four days.
Jacob Jimmerson, 25, son of Carol and Jim Jimmerson, lost his life in an accidental drug overdose. According to the Jimmersons, Jacob had registered to become an organ donor.
"Our son, unbeknownst to us, had selected that option to donate his organs," Jim Jimmerson said. "We were so devastated. We could only see it as this might be the only good thing to come out of the tragedy that Carol and I were suffering at the time."
Jacob's heart was flown to Dallas, where doctors transplanted it into Ngungutau.
The procedure happened in 2019 and in November 2020 Ngungutau had the chance to meet the family of his donor’s heart when Carol and Jim flew to Dallas to meet Ngungutau at Baylor University Medical Center.
The Jimmersons listened to their son's heart, beating inside Ngungutau's body.
"I cried. I cried so much. That was our son. We want it to beat hard and pump well for Kennedy and provide him a great life," Jim Jimmerson said.
"It pretty much saved my life. It gave me a second chance at life, to continue to spread the positivity," said Ngungutau, who has decided to go to school to become a heart transplantation nurse.
As one of the largest multi-specialty transplant centers in the U.S., surgeons on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center, part of Baylor Scott & White Health, have now become only the 16th medical center in the country to perform 1,000 heart transplants.