May 29, 1998

VUMC’s 300th transplant patient gives heartfelt thanks

VUMC's 300th transplant patient gives heartfelt thanks

reporter_5.29.1998_2.jpg (15k)

Nurse Dorothy Terrell attends to Carlton Holmes, of Goodlettsville, who recently became VUMC's 300th heart transplant patient. Photo by Donna Jones Bailey.

At 9 p.m. on Friday, May 8th, Carlton Holmes received the phone call he had been waiting a year-and-a-half for.

By 3 o¹clock Saturday morning the transplant team had started the seven hour procedure that would give Holmes his new heart. Holmes received the chance of a new life, and entered VUMC¹s record books as the heart transplant program¹s 300th transplant recipient.

The 54-year-old Goodletsville man had no idea he was to become a landmark for VUMC¹s thirteen-year-old program.

"I think that modern medicine is really great," Holmes said. "Without this transplant I would have died."

Holmes, who has a long history of heart problems, had a single bypass in 1979, a triple bypass in 1986, four balloon catheter procedures, and three stent procedures prior to his transplant.

"I had no choice but to wait for this. My heart was thirty five percent dead due to myopathy," he said. "I couldn¹t even get up and walk without having severe chest pain."

Holmes¹ transplant team was led by Dr. Davis C. Drinkwater, William S. Stoney Professor and Chairman of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery.

VUMC¹s Heart Transplant program was in started in 1985 by now Senator William Frist, M.D. and Merrill.

The transplant program performed Vanderbilt¹s first heart transplant on April 25, 1985. Other milestones involving the Vanderbilt heart transplant program include the state¹s first heart-lung transplant in 1986, and the state¹s first infant heart transplant in 1989. Since its inception, the heart transplant program has averaged two transplants a month for the last thirteen years.

"I would just like to thank people who give the gift and donate organs so people like me can have a new life," Holmes said. "I look forward to going home and holding my baby grandson on my lap."