Methodist Healthcare February 03, 2016

Thankful for a new Heart

Methodist Heart Transplant Program

Andy Post is tuning up his musical skills to help others understand the importance of being an organ donor, because without a heart donor, Post would not be alive today.

Post, 44, was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy in 1999. This condition causes the heart and surrounding tissue to become enlarged, resulting in difficulty pumping blood. The condition can lead to heart failure.

After years of various therapies, including aggressive medication and an implanted pacemaker and defibrillator, Post’s heart health continued to decline. A band director for more than 20 years at Wood, Jackson and Lopez Middle Schools, Post had to leave his teaching position because of his health.

A heart in crisis. On Aug. 15, 2014, Post’s heart condition worsened. He was admitted to Methodist Heart Hospital, a campus of Methodist Hospital, and given top status on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list.

“Doctors told my wife that they didn’t know if I would survive,” he says. “I was basically down to just hours of life, and the transplant was my only option.”

On Aug. 18, a donor heart was accepted and surgery was performed. Leading the transplant team were Michael D. Kwan, MD, medical director of the Advanced Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Program at the Texas Transplant Institute (TTI), a department of Methodist Hospital, and Chandra Kunavarapu, MD, TTI cardiologist.

“I was impressed with everything,” says Post. “It was a total team effort from the organ procurement representative to the medical team. They really care about their patients and work together as a unit to heal us.”

After the transplant, he was in cardiac rehabilitation for three months. “I really appreciated the rehab team,” he says. “They got me back on my feet and gave me the confidence to reclaim my life. They pushed me at just the right pace. Now they are like family and friends that I will have for life.”

Living in gratitude. In August 2015, Posted learned that his donor was a 37-year-old male. He wrote a letter to his donor family thanking them and asking to meet them.

“It’s just hard to put down in words what the donation has meant to me, especially since their loss gave me a new life,” he says.

So to honor his donor and celebrate his new life, Post is dedicating himself to spreading the word about the importance of organ donation. He now volunteers with the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, speaking to groups throughout the city. He has started a website: www.andypostbaseball.wix.com/livingfortwo and communicates about organ donation and his transplant experience, as well as his intentions to take good care of his new heart.

Also in August, Post joined the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio on a part-time basis as conductor of the Symphonic Winds, a group of 45 to 50 young musicians.

“I accepted the position with the guidance of Dr. Kunavarapu and the transplant team,” he says. “It is the perfect opportunity for me. I am no longer handling equipment, which might impact my immune system, but rather, I am working with my two passions: kids and music.

“Best of all, as a successful heart transplant recipient, I am giving other people hope,” he says.

Register to become a donor at www.MethodistDonateLife.com.