Rockford man credits massive weight loss gets him off the heart transplant list


MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Tom Satterlee knew he had to lose weight to get the heart transplant he needed. What he did not know was that losing the weight would end up meaning he wouldn’t need a heart transplant at all.

UW Health celebrated Saterlee’s prognosis, noting how rare it is.

Back in 2012, he had a type of heart pump called a left ventricular assist device implanted, the health system explained. The devices, which help a weak heart pump blood, are considered temporary measures while the patient waits to get a new heart.

But, according to UW Health, Saterlee weighed 436 pounds at the time and he couldn’t qualify for the heart transplant list without shedding some of that mass. To help lose the weight, Saterlee opted to get bariatric surgery. So, on the day after Christmas, in 2017, UW Health’s Dr. Michael Garren performed the sleeve gastrectomy.

Fast forward to August of this year. Saterlee weighs approximately half of what he did previously, but, now, something else isn’t right. The heart pump inserted eight years earlier was starting to clot. It needed to be replaced – or so the doctors thought.

Surgery was set for September 3, UW Health continued. Once the operation was underway, said doctors discovered that Saterlee’s heart was once again strong enough function on its own again and he wouldn’t need new pump – let alone a heart transplant.

UW Health experts estimate only two percent of people who get that type of pump will ever have it removed without getting a heart transplant.

Satterlee credited beating the odds to losing that weight and the UW Health staff who helped him both lose more than 200 lbs. and get off the transplant list, the health system added.

Copyright 2020 WMTV. All rights reserved.

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