The Right Hospital at the Right Time
Beginning at age 35, Ben Adler suffered from so many heart attacks that he became quite familiar with his emergency room doctors. His doctors told him he was not a good candidate for surgery, so instead they inserted stents in his arteries to keep them open and allow blood to flow more freely. At one point, he had 16 stents in his body.
“The doctors told me that the only way I was going to get better was to have a heart transplant,” says Ben, now 50 and a resident of Island Lake, Illinois.
After his fifth heart attack, Ben was bed-ridden in very serious condition at a hospital in Chicago. His doctor told him there was nothing more they could do, and he should begin to think about funeral arrangements. Ben was devastated and asked to speak to a department administrator, who suggested that Ben, a U.S. Navy veteran, connect with the team at The William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, where UW Health doctors could help him find a solution.
Ben traveled there by ambulance in the middle of the night, where a cardiologist and physician’s assistant met him right away to assess his condition. Shortly after, he received a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a mechanical pump that is implanted inside the chest to help the heart pump blood.
“The care I received in the hospital was incredible,” he says. “At that time, my kids and fiancé were hourly employees and couldn’t be there all the time. When they weren’t there, staff would come into my room all the time to make sure I was okay.”
Three months after Ben received his LVAD, Lucian Lozonschi, MD, a UW Health cardiovascular transplant surgeon, performed the transplant made possible by Ben’s heart donor, Josh Richards, who died at age 25 after being shot at an Appleton nightclub.
Several months after his transplant, Ben was able to connect with Jackie Pische, Josh’s mother. Jackie created the Joshua J. Richards Charitable Foundation to increase awareness of and raise funds for organ donation. Ben and another of Josh’s organ recipients were honored to join her when she presented a check to UW Organ and Tissue Donation.
Ben now works hard as a full-time restaurant manager and enjoys spending his weekends at race tracks with his son. “Nothing can stop me,” he says. “I can do anything!”