The Madrid couple didn’t know that their five hour drive to Albuquerque would lead to open-heart surgery.
Arturo and his wife Pilar traveled from their cozy home in Anthony, New Mexico (located close to the border in southern NM) to seek better treatment and a recommendation for Arturo’s poor heart condition at the Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical Center. “I couldn’t walk very far and I was always sleeping,” Arturo remembers.
To the Madrid family, Arturo’s heart care was a revolving door. “Before surgery, he wouldn’t leave his recliner and would just sleep. The only thing they could do was send him to the hospital and get the fluid removed from his body,” says Pilar.
Arturo Madrid, 78, was the first patient to undergo the LVAD procedure at the Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical Center on December 19, 2017 by New Mexico Heart Institute cardiothoracic surgeon, Dana A. Booth, MS, MD. This was the first ever LVAD procedure completed in New Mexico.
When the opportunity arose to visit the Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical Center, the Madrid family was desperate. “If we had gone to Houston or Dallas it would have been a longer drive. It was very worth it. If not, I don’t think he would have made it,” Pilar says. “After our second appointment in Albuquerque, I knew we were getting a bit closer. I said we have to do something. I can’t just sit around and let him decay. We were very lucky,” she says. Here, the couple found out about the left ventricular assist device, or LVAD. The LVAD is a mechanical pump planted inside the chest that is programmed to assist the left side of the heart pump blood. The implantation is an open-heart surgery that takes about 4-6 hours.
Before a patient can receive the LVAD, he or she must go through extensive testing to see whether he or she is a good candidate for the device. Pilar shares, “We stayed a whole week on that second floor and I stayed with him. They made me very comfortable. During that week they did lots of tests to see if he qualified for the surgery. After many tests, a colonoscopy and x-rays, they finally told us he qualified.”
Insight from one of the nurses was one of the deciding factors in the Madrids’ decision to get the LVAD. “One of the nurses that we met when we first got there, she told me that her father had the same procedure done a few years ago and she convinced me that it was a good thing to do. Her father was 60 when he needed the LVAD,” says Arturo.
The day after surgery, Arturo Madrid was alive for his 79th birthday on December 21, 2017.
Pilar laughs as she remembers seeing Arturo after surgery. “The nurse asked him if he knew where he was and he said, ‘Central America!’”
Following the surgery, Pilar was happy to see Arturo progress. “He started walking and eating real good to regain his strength and energy. We were happy,” she shares. After a month and a half, Arturo and his wife left the Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical Center on January 19th.
“I’ve started to be able to do things that I couldn’t do before. I’m walking a lot more, which is very good,” Arturo shares. When asked what he plans to do now that he is recovering from LVAD implementation, Arturo is eager to get to the driving range. He says, “I want to go and play some golf!”
Arturo and his wife will return to Albuquerque in March for a routine checkup.
Arturo is very thankful for his wife’s ongoing support throughout this process. “I don’t think I would have been able to go through what I did without her,” he says.
The couple will celebrate their 53rd year of marriage on February 20th. They have four children and eleven grandchildren.
For Arturo and Pilar Madrid, February being National Heart Month is extra special this year. Not only are they celebrating love, they are celebrating life.