Heart Transplant Recipient Speaks to Heart Failure Patients in Carterville

Apr 5, 2019

Area residents who have suffered from heart failure gathered Friday in Carterville to learn more about their cardiac issues.

Southern Illinois Healthcare's Heart Failure University featured guest speaker Terry Burns of Marion, who underwent heart transplant surgery in St. Louis on May 20th, 2018.

Burns says a good attitude was critical to surviving the 13-hour surgery and now thriving in recovery. But, he says that wasn't always easy.
"I'd lost my wife. It was a fight. It really was. But, you step it up. You make yourself feel better. I went to the gym. I felt better. I did things to make me feel better about myself; to give me confidence is what I did."

In addition to his attitude, the 64-year-old Burns credits the success of his recovery to exercise and listening to his doctors and other caregivers.

Burns received a heart from a 33-year-old man.

Susan Pope-Hickey is program coordinator at the SIH Cardiac Management Center in Marion. She says at least half of their heart failure patients are depressed.
"It's a chronic illness they have to live with the rest of their lives. So, at the Heart Failure Clinic at the Cardiac Management Center, we treat the depression along with their other symptoms because if you don't treat that then they're not going to get better because of the attitude, like Terry says."

Burns says he enjoys telling his story to other heart failure patients and Pope-Hickey says that often means more than hearing from a medical professional.