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Turning the Corner After Advanced Heart Failure

To look at fifty-four year old Wendell Harmon, Jr., one would never suspect that he’d been through ten years of serious heart problems. Fit and trim, working out hard on a treadmill, Wendell’s poise and kind demeanor radiate health.

Under the surface, however, the married father of two children has followed a family legacy of heart issues that four years ago left him disabled and unable to work as a union carpenter anymore.

“My father passed from heart issues,” he said “but I just didn’t worry about it.”

That changed when Wendell had a series of heart attacks. A frequent Deborah Heart and Lung Center patient, he has had numerous procedures at the hospital – pacemaker, defibrillator, heart valve replacement, and multiple stents. His heart issues came to a head earlier this year.

“I was a long-time Deborah patient,” he added “but finally Dr. Barn (Kulpreet Barn, MD, Medical Director of the Advanced Heart Failure team at Deborah) told me ‘you need another heart’. He asked me are willing to travel three hours? Of course I was, yes, I want to live.”

In January Dr. Barn began making calls, and by February Wendell was on his way to Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute in Connecticut for a successful heart transplant.

Fast forward several months and Wendell can be found as a regular at Deborah’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. Here two days a week the rehab team cheers him on as he pushes himself. “They always tell me ‘you can do it’.”

W Harmon Photo
Wendell Harmon, Jr. with the cardiac rehabilitation team.

He remembers how difficult it was for him and his wife Diahanne when he was told he needed a transplant. “We tried to stay calm and be strong. She said ‘the doctors know what they are doing’.”

With a positive attitude, deep faith in God, and hard work to help in his recovery, Wendell is on the road to an excellent outcome and many years crafting his carpentry and creating artwork, and years to enjoy spending time with his 21-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter.

“It has been hard the last ten years, but I have definitely received the best care at Deborah. If they could work so hard for me, I can give the same back and work just as hard.” And with that Wendell begins pedaling on the stationary bike again.


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