Faith and family help a man through risky heart transplant surgery, as chronicled in this debut memoir.
In 2008, after a long and successful career in business, Cunha was easing into retirement when a health crisis upended his life. A cardiologist informed him his heart was “shot.” Medications, a pacemaker, and a defibrillator would keep him going for a time, but a heart transplant was his only chance of surviving long term. By 2013, he was a patient in Emory University Hospital’s cardiac care unit, waiting for the transplant he hoped would save his life. Cunha walks readers through each step of his illness, from the disease’s early stages to a 70-day wait for a new heart in the CCU to the long and difficult recovery period after his successful surgery. The book is brief but informative, illuminating the day-to-day reality for organ transplant patients and their families. Cunha was lucky that he had the resources to seek out care from top-notch physicians not only at Emory, but also the Cleveland Clinic, “the #1 cardiac hospital in the U.S.” But even with all his advantages, he was often frustrated by a medical system that didn’t always seem to put patients’ needs first. While he praises the doctors and nurses who provided exemplary care, he doesn’t hesitate to call out those whose bedside manners left something to be desired. The power of family is emphasized, as Cunha’s wife, children, grandchildren, and other loved ones were invaluable sources of support, while his strong Roman Catholic faith got him through darker moments. Most movingly, Cunha writes about meeting his heart donor’s mother, who found comfort in the idea that a part of her 20-year-old son lived on through the author. More than a few readers will likely heed Cunha’s call to become organ donors themselves. The book’s greatest weakness is its brevity. Additional information about the shortage of donors in the U.S. and how the few organs available for transplant are allocated would have been welcome.
Inspirational words for organ donors, transplant patients, and their families and friends.