By Admin | February 14, 2008
Barry Beddis is a long-term heart transplant survivior. In addition to working full-time and being an active and involved grandfather, he volunteers his time to talk with patients waiting on heart transplant lists. We recently had a chance to meet with thim.
How old are you?
How old were you when you received your transplant?
What were you doing before the transplant? What did you do for a living?
I was a policeman in the city of Philadelphia.
A Philadelphia cop?
Yes. Up until 1983 and that’s when I had my first heart attack.
How old were you when you had your first heart attack?
I was 34.
Did you have a strong family history of heart disease?
Did you smoke and drink and or not exercise much?
Well, I exercised regularly but I did smoke. I smoked approximately a pack of cigarettes a day. And I did some drinking.
Then after you had your first heart attack, what happened?
Well, they wouldn’t let me back on the police force, so I went to work at Jefferson Hospital. And I was there for a little while and I had to have a quadruple bypass surgery.
How old were you when you had that?
Approximately thirty five or thirty six years old.
What happened after that?
That lasted approximately six years and I must confess I did go back to smoking. So that didn’t help.
Did you get onto the transplant list then? That puts you to about 42.
Then I had another quadruple bypass surgery.
You had two quadruple bypass surgeries?
Yes. When I was on the table during the second quadruple bypass surgery, I had another massive heart attack.
You must have been pretty sick by then.
Jefferson at that time… I was talking with Dr. Triester, he was my doctor there. And, he told me there was nothing more they could do. Because Jefferson didn’t do heart transplants at that time.
So, they sent me over to Hahnemann Hospital. I went over there. At first they weren’t going to put me on the list because I was so sick. But, then they decided that if I gained some weight they would put me on the list.
It’s funny because my wife had me on this strict diet to lose weight and we got in there and the doctor said, “I can’t put you on my heart transplant list until you gain some weight.” I just looked at her.
How long were you on the pre-tranplant waiting list?
Probably about three years.
Were you too sick to work?
Yes, I was too sick to work. I was at home waiting. Sitting on my sofa making plans for after I got the heart.
Did you ever think pretransplant you weren’t going to make it?
Well, at one point while I was waiting at home, I more or less died, I guess. Me and the bride were in bed together and I just went. She called 911 and she kept me alive with CPR until Fire Rescue arrived.
That was kind of a close call.
(Laughs). So, she had called Fire Rescue and when they got there the guys happened to know me. They hit me fifteen times with the paddles.
Well, because I was without oxygen for so long I was in a coma for ten days. When I came out of the coma, I had no memory.
So, they took me off the heart transplant list. They wouldn’t give me a new heart with no memory because I wouldn’t be able to take my medications.
How did you get back on the list?
Well, after about six months of going to see a psych doctor, I think it was every four weeks, I would walk into his office and he’d say, “Who’s the mayor, who’s the governor, who’s the president?”
I couldn’t remember because I had no short term memory. And, he would say, “I’m sorry, I can’t put you on the list.” It was like getting the death sentence, you know, every month.
Then finally, one time I walked into the doctor’s office, me and the bride, and he did some small talk every time so that I wouldn’t memorize it.
He did some small talk and he did a little more small talk than usual. And then finally he said, “Barry I am putting you back on the list.” So, they put me back on the list.
Do you remember where you were when you got the call?
I was in the hospital. I gotten too sick to be at home. This was about December 20. My fifteen year old son had called the hospital. He said, “My father just went up the stairs and he had to stop five times. Could you please do something?”
So, they called my wife, who called my brother-in-law, who took me to the hospital. I went in December 20, 1995 and got the heart on March 20, 1996 and I was in the hospital the entire time.
The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the person being interviewed and are not attributable to DailyInterview.com or the editors.
Disclosure: the interviewer is a past employee of Thomas Jefferson University.
Copyright 2008 DailyInterview.com
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