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Finding New Beginnings after Crossing the End of the Road

Five years ago Richard Young had a heart attack, followed by a pacemaker. Soon his downward slide into heart failure began.

“By the time my birthday came around this past June I was in pretty bad shape,” said the 65-year old limo driver from Trenton.

Richard Young with his fiancée Antoinette Grimsley.

“I was very low. Tired. I couldn’t move around much. I couldn’t walk more than a few steps.”

“My doctor gave me an echo, and because of my low heart rate he sent me to Deborah.”

Seen by Kulpreet Barn, MD — cardiologist, heart failure specialist and Medical Director of the Advanced Heart Failure Center at Deborah Heart and Lung Center — he quickly determined that Richard was in serious heart failure.

“Mr. Young’s quality of life was severely diminished,” said Dr. Barn “and his heart was not working well at all.”

Richard said Dr. Barn told him it was time to think of an LVAD (left ventricle assist device), a mechanical pump that would support the pumping of his heart. Richard was initially opposed to the surgery.

Richard Young with (seated) Antoinette Grimsley and her family, Dwayne, Zareyana, Charnice and Kieth.

“My experience in the beginning was that I didn’t want it,” he said. “I had doubt about the whole situation, being hooked up to certain things, and having to wear the battery all the time, and maybe it would be noticeable.”

Strong family support, especially from his girlfriend Antoinette, and his daughter Tamika, helped him overcome his feelings and his depression over the procedure. “I went along with it, and with their support, I felt totally different.”

Only a month later in July, even in the midst of the pandemic, he had the LVAD surgery.

“I was at Deborah for four days, then in rehab for two weeks,” he recalled. Once home he quickly acclimated to the care and maintenance of his device, charging his batteries, hooking up when he goes to bed, and caring for the device accessories.

He’s now used to the mechanical pump inside his chest and its external battery pack, “it’s a little heavy,” he noted. Richard is driving again, and building up his strength with cardiac rehab.

“I restarted myself,” he said. “I am in a completely different circle now. I have done a tremendous turnaround. I have energy to spend with my family.”

The avid sports fan even made plans for the future.

“I got engaged to Antoinette and we’re planning a November 2021 wedding.”

And while Richard explores whether or not he wants to move to the heart transplant list, he is perfectly content now with the new lease on life that the LVAD has given him.

“I have to wait to hear what is involved with the transplant. I’m not so sure I want to go through another surgery when I’m doing so well now.”

And for Dr. Barn? “We are excited that our highly specialized LVAD program was here for Richard. It is great to see someone who could barely take a few steps move forward with his life with renewed energy and make plans for the future. I wish him and Antoinette many years happily married.”