An Oklahoma Man Shares His Heart Transplant Journey
With a renewed lease on life, this Thanksgiving will be extra special to Jack Chappell, 57. After showing signs of heart failure nearly a decade ago, this father of two began the fight of his life.
In 2012, Chappell fell ill with persistent symptoms. “I felt like I had a cold I couldn’t get rid of,” he says. “I coughed a lot. I couldn’t get rid of it. I just felt lousy. I also felt like I was putting on weight.” In 2013, after a business trip and at the urging of his wife, he was diagnosed with heart failure due to a severely weakened heart muscle by his primary care physician and was connected to cardiologists at INTEGRIS Health.
2015 was a difficult year for the Chappell family, and Jack especially, as his father tragically succumbed to terminal heart failure at the age of 82. Within a short time after his father’s passing, Jack’s heart failure also worsened to the point where his life was in imminent danger. He was admitted to INTEGRIS Health under the care of Douglas Horstmanshof, M.D., co-director of INTEGRIS Advanced Cardiac Care (IACC), and underwent placement of a life-saving HeartMate 2 Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD). Chappell recovered quickly and was able to leave the hospital just over two weeks after LVAD surgery. He rapidly returned to work and an active life, supported by his LVAD. After the need for a LVAD replacement in 2019, the IACC team recommended pursuing a heart transplant, and in 2020, Chappell was placed on the transplant list to begin the search for a new heart.
“Jack is an individual who exemplified the value of being at the only hospital in Oklahoma that has access to all options to treat his worsening heart failure – in this case a LVAD that allowed him to work, care for his family and live successfully for years with a good quality of life,” states Horstmanshof.
Jack’s journey to a new heart was prolonged after contracting COVID-19 in November 2020. Despite a successful recovery from COVID under the care of the IACC team, his health declined again in early 2021, and he was admitted to the hospital for ongoing care while awaiting his new heart. He would spend four long months in the hospital waiting for his heart transplant. “That’s a long time to be in the hospital for sure,” he admits. “But I got used to the routine of being there. I’d wake up, eat breakfast, do my labs, and work remotely from my hospital bed. I was able to stay busy.”
In July 2021 he received the life changing news that he was getting a new heart. Chappell says he was in shock and then broke down in tears. “I honestly don’t remember going to surgery. I just remember waking up in the ICU with a brand new heart and a second chance at life.”
“After getting his new heart, every member of the INTEGRIS Health staff that was involved in his care celebrated with Jack and his immediate family,” Horstmanshof remembers. “Our whole team remains so proud of him for his dedication and grace throughout his journey and looks forward to many more years of knowing and caring for him as his INTEGRIS Health Family!”
Chappell recently joined other LVAD patients and completed the 5K in the Oklahoma City Marathon. He routinely stays in touch with the LVAD team and speaks to other heart transplant and LVAD patients as an advocate for the program.
A group of people posing for a photo Description automatically generatedJack enjoyed a fulfilling and active life with his LVAD, but is looking forward to rediscovering swimming or being in water without concern for his device. Now, after his transplant, he is getting back to traveling, going to football games, all while knowing he has more time to spend with his family. However, there will always be a special place in his new heart for the hospital he called ‘home’ for so long.
“We’ve got the best heart team right here in Oklahoma City. I don’t know why anyone would go anywhere else.”