Back and better than ever
Bernie Salazar is the definition of a “regular” at the Heart Failure Clinic at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. With the batteries for his ventricular assistive device (VAD) in tow, Bernie came to Advocate Condell on a weekly and often daily basis to have his heart and VAD checked. He made these visits, that is, until he received a call on May 18, 2018, that virtually changed his life.
Bernie entered the first stages of heart failure after weakening his heart in a motorcycle accident as a young man. Over time, he underwent several surgeries including the 2014 surgical implantation of a VAD, a device which helps the left ventricle of the heart pump blood to the rest of the body. Due to the portable nature of the device, patients must have extra batteries with them at all times to power the VAD.
Bernie’s name was added the transplant list, and years passed without a match for a new heart. In the meantime, he maintained his signature sunny disposition, coming to the hospital for checkups and visiting with nurses and patients, always happy to offer encouragement to those needing it most.
Linda Nixon, a nurse practitioner and heart failure coordinator at Advocate Condell explains, “Bernie has this amazing personality that just carries through everything he does. He shares his experiences with physicians and nursing staff and helps other patients understand how the VAD works.”
After four long years, Bernie received a call asking him to make his way to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., as quickly as possible: They had matched a heart for Bernie.
Just a few short months later, Bernie is back at Advocate Condell and stronger than ever. With his incisions healing and his new heart beating, Bernie will begin cardiac rehabilitation this fall. While the road ahead will not be easy, Bernie takes it in stride, sharing, “I have a new heart, and I am happy God gave me a second chance. Never be afraid. I’ve had so many surgeries — let’s hope this is the last one!”
About the Author
Katie Helander, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing intern for Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. She is currently pursuing her BA in public relations and minors in international communication and Spanish at Illinois State University, where she also serves as the Chapter President of the Public Relations Student Society of America. In her free time, Katie enjoys theatre, traveling, working out, and learning new things. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in international relations or with a major public relations agency.