Heart Transplant Patient Story | News | Loyola Medicine
Friday, March 15, 2019

Following Heart Transplant, Loyola Medicine Patient Says He's "Getting My Life Back"

Joe Janusz
MAYWOOD, IL –  Joe Janusz, president of the Peoria-area River City Bowling Association, is looking forward to bowling again following his heart transplant at Loyola University Medical Center.
"When I throw that first ball, I will know I've completed my recovery," he said. "And I plan for it to be a strike."
Mr. Janusz, 51, lives in Metamora, IL, east of Peoria. He has had heart disease since 2003, when he underwent his first surgery. By 2018, Mr. Janusz was experiencing advanced heart failure. His heart's ejection fraction had dropped to 10 percent, meaning the main pumping chamber was pumping only 10 percent of the blood in the chamber with each contraction. (A normal ejection fraction is about 60 percent.)
Mr. Janusz had to quit his store manager job and give up bowling. He had swelling in his feet and was so short of breath that merely walking to the end of the block left him winded. On dozens of occasions, his heart went into a life-threatening arrhythmia, resulting in electric shocks from his implanted defibrillator to restore a normal heart rhythm.
While waiting for a heart transplant, Mr. Janusz underwent surgery at Loyola to receive an implanted pump called a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). The device helped the heart's main pumping chamber pump blood to the rest of the body.
After a donor organ became available, Mr. Janusz underwent a heart transplant on Nov. 8, 2018. Today he feels great. The swelling is gone, he's breathing freely and he no longer has trouble staying awake.
"I'm getting my life back," he said.
Loyola cardiologist Alain Heroux, MD, a heart failure and heart transplant specialist who treats Mr. Janusz, said Loyola "has the multidisciplinary expertise to care for patients such as Mr. Janusz who come to us for treatment of complex heart conditions."
Before he got sick, Mr. Janusz bowled up to three times a week, with an average score of 213. He has competed in 25 national tournaments and was a member of a bowing team that won a Peoria tournament. But it will be a few more months before Mr. Janusz's sternum has healed enough to allow him to throw a heavy bowling ball.
Mr. Janusz has high praise for his Loyola physicians, including Dr. Heroux; electrophysiologist Smit Vasaiwala, MD, who treated Mr. Janusz's irregular heartbeat; cardiothoracic surgeon Edwin McGee, Jr., MD, who implanted his LVAD; and cardiothoracic surgeon Jeffrey Schwartz, MD, who performed Mr. Janusz's heart transplant.
Mr. Janusz said his nurses are great, too. "The care I received them was amazing," he said. "I felt like I was part of a family."
Loyola offers the highest level of integrated, multidisciplinary care for patients with advanced heart disease who may quality for a heart transplant, and Loyola is known for taking on the most challenging cases.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.