Rockford native taken off heart transplant list after surgery


MADISON, Wis. (WIFR) – Rockford native Tom Satterlee was taken off the heart transplant list last month because his weight loss surgery enabled his heart function to improve.

UW Health called it “an extremely rare outcome.”

The Rockford native’s journey began in 2012, when Satterlee had a left ventricular assist device inserted to help his heart function. An LVAD is a device implanted in a patient’s chest to help a weakened heart pump blood. It is often considered a temporary measure until the patient can get a new heart.

The LVAD helped with Saterlee’s heart; but to get on the heart transplant list, he also needed to lose weight. At 436 pounds, he decided he needed weight loss surgery.

On Dec. 26 of 2017, Satterlee underwent a sleeve gastrectomy performed by Dr. Michael Garren, a UW Health bariatric surgeon. Since the surgery, Tom has lost more than 200 pounds.

“At the end of Aug. 2020, Satterlee didn’t feel quite right. A known risk associated with an LVAD is clotting of the device, which turned out to be the case,” UW Health said.

Eventually, Satterlee underwent surgery at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin on Sept. 3 to replace his LVAD. However, when the UW Health heart surgeons went to replace it, his heart function had improved enough that the heart pump was able to be removed and Tom’s heart was able to pump blood adequately without assistance.

“Only about two percent of patients can have an LVAD removed without a heart transplant,” UW Health said.

Satterlee credits his weight loss surgery team and staff at UW Health for getting him off the heart transplant list and saving his life.

Copyright 2020 WIFR. All rights reserved.

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