On the edge of medical miracles

On the edge of medical miracles

With advanced stages of cardiovascular conditions, physicians are often treating the sickest of the sick. For Dr. Nasir Sulemanjee, an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, it’s about providing second chances and helping people who don’t have many options left.

“These patients have exhausted all other options,” Dr. Sulemanjee says. “I am here at their most fearful moment in life. It’s my job and privilege to help them understand what is happening, gauge their understanding of the disease and find out their expectations. Some are seeking a longer life, and some just want to feel better for the time they do have left.”

Dr. Sulemanjee chose to go into cardiovascular medicine because heart disease runs in his family, so he has seen the devastating effects firsthand. If you ask him when he knew he made the right decision, he’ll tell you it was during his fellowship training. He was in the operating room when a surgeon removed a patient’s entire heart, leaving the chest cavity empty – but the patient was able to be supported on machines. Mesmerized by the technology and advanced medical techniques, he knew he found his calling.

Reflecting on how his team came together during the COVID pandemic, Dr. Sulemanjee says, “We were struggling with such a burdensome disease and the hospitals were struggling in so many aspects. But our team banded together and worked through the pandemic, performing the highest number of heart transplants in the Midwest. Our team never quit and continued to provide this lifesaving therapy so patients wouldn’t suffer. Because of that we were able to serve our community and patients in a meaningful manner.”

Getting a heart transplant is a life-changing event that involves relationships with the entire hospital team, including donors, physicians, surgeons and nursing staff. These relationships are for life. That is the commitment of this transplant team.

Seeing patients thrive and having a fulfilling life after being told they may not survive is what drives Dr. Sulemanjee to do what he does best.

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About the Author

Amy Werdin
Amy Werdin

Amy Werdin, health enews contributor, is a provider public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has been with the organization for 19 years, starting out in marketing for Advanced Healthcare, then Aurora Health Care and now in her current role. She enjoys reading, movies and watching her two daughters dance and her son swim.