Chicagoan receives heart transplant on his 45th birthday

Northwestern Medicine
Cardiology August 08, 2019

Chicago, IL – Marc Lestinsky received a gift unlike any other on his 45th birthday —  a life-saving heart transplant. Since 2014, Lestinsky has been suffering from heart failure, a side effect of cancer treatment he had when he was just 9 years old after a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

 “Marc did what a lot of our really young patients with heart failure do, which is look good and think they feel really good, but then inside there’s a lot of turmoil going on,” said Esther Vorovich, MD,  a cardiologist and medical director of the shock team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

For years, Lestinsky’s team of doctors managed his heart failure with medication but ultimately needed to list him for  a heart transplant. On Wednesday, July 31st, his 45th birthday, Lestinsky celebrated his birthday with the gift of life.

“I think the words that always come to my mind are grateful, thankful, and blessed,” Lestinsky said.

Duc Thinh Pham, MD, surgical director of the Advanced Heart Failure Center and the surgeon who performed Lestinsky’s transplant, said “the odds of someone getting a heart on their birthday is like a one in a million chance.”

"It's probably the most rewarding part of my career," Dr. Pham said about performing heart transplants. "To be able to do it for somebody on their birthday is probably the best gift I could have given him."

Lestinsky, joined by Northwestern Memorial Hospital physicians, nurses and staff, as well as parents and twin brother Mike Lestinsky, encouraged everyone to register as organ donors.

“I feel like if you have your health, you have everything,” he said. “The icing on the cake is that it was on my birthday.

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