Reported August 2010
CHICAGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It's a last resort for heart failure patients but those lucky enough to receive a heart transplant aren't in the clear. After surgery, doctors have to monitor the patient weekly to make sure they don't reject their new organ. That means dozens of invasive procedures. The road to recovery just got a little easier.
You need Flash Player 8 or higher to view video content with the ROO Flash Player.
Click here to download and install it.
Scott Dowell and his wife have enough fishing stories to fill a book.
"My biggest catch was about two weeks ago," Scott Dowell told Ivanhoe. "I caught a 29 ½ pound blue champion.
His pictures are proof.
"Even if I'm not catching fish, just being able to be outdoors, something I couldn't do. I'm not bed-ridden anymore, Scott said.
Scott was bed-ridden from three heart attacks and congestive heart failure. He was too weak to even cast a line. His options were heart transplant or death. Scott's transplant was a success, but the work to prevent rejection is just beginning.
"As long as they have the transplant, you always have to be monitoring them for rejection, William Cotts, M.D., Medical Director at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL, explained.
According to Dr. Cott, an expert in heart failure, traditionally that means up to 15 heart biopsies a year.
"You numb the neck or groin and take what's called a biotone, which is a long piece of metal with little snippers at the end, which snips these pieces out, Dr. Cotts explained.
"So when you're starting to get scar tissue built up, it hurts more and you're wide awake when they're doing it, Scott recalled.
Thanks to a new test, the process is now as simple as donating blood.
"I take a lab test tube of blood and it takes about two minutes," Scott said.
It's called Allomap. It measures 11 genes in the white blood cells.
"There are genes that separate people who are rejecting and people who are not," Dr. Cotts said.
The test tells doctors who needs more anti-rejection meds and who's doing well. In a study published in the New England Journal of medicine, the non-invasive test predicted rejection as well as biopsy.
"It's a lot easier on him, Dr. Cotts said.
In appreciation, Scott created a permanent thank you to his doctors.
"They're all my heroes, Scott exclaimed.
The people who helped him get back to his favorite place.
"I could sit out here all day and enjoy it, Scott said.
Dr. Cotts says the gene test won't eliminate biopsies completely, but could result in significantly fewer biopsies for transplant patients. The one-year survival rate for heart transplant patients is 88 percent. It drops to 73 percent after five years.
The Biophysical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
William Cotts, MD
Expert in Heart Failure
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Chicago, IL 60611
Director of Policy & Communications
Heads Up! Concussion Detector
This Month's TV Reports
Each year, 135,000 kids get a concussion on the playing field. That makes sports the second leading cause of traumatic brain injury, next to car crashes, which tops the list. If kids get back into the game too soon, the results can be deadly. Researchers are testing a new way to detect concussions.
Shock to the Heart!
Sudden cardiac arrest happens when your heart just stops, and it kills more than one million people each year. Doctors are hoping to change that fact by using a new device that shocks hearts back to life.
Green Wheel for Eco-Cyclists
Now-a-days going green is where it's at, but when it comes to transportation, many are not able to give up their cars. Now a green wheel could have you peddling to work
not only gas-free, but sweat-free.
Global Warming & the Feedback Effect
It's not the heat
it's the humidity. Most people have heard about the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but have you heard about what that does to the humidity?
Escaping a Submarine
Escaping from a Navy jet is easy
just pull the eject lever. But when you're in a submarine, more than 800 feet below the ocean's surface in frigid water, it makes escaping a lot more difficult. Now the Navy has a new way to train submariners how to escape, when they have no other way out.
Breakthrough for Blindness
Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic eye disease that affects 100,000 people across the country. It mostly affects people in their 20s and 30s. In fact, this disease leaves its victims practically blind. Now, doctors are using bionic eyes to help people see again.
Taking the Sting out of Bee Stings
Bee season is in full swing, and if you're one of the unlucky ones who has a bad reaction to stings, summertime can be a pain. Now a new treatment for stings can help make your summer less painful.
Scott Dowell survived three heart attacks, heart failure and a heart transplant. Now a new technique aims to make the rest of his life a little easier.
On-The-Spot Cancer Diagnosis
Each year, more than 12 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed. Patients having to wait on test results can have a scary, nerve-wracking experience. Now doctors can diagnose some illnesses on the spot.
Brains vs. Social Butterflies: Which is Better?
The moment kids walk into kindergarten, parents and teachers encourage students to study hard get good grades. But there's much more to school then just getting straight A's.
Discover Galaxies on the Web
Here's a quick astronomy quiz for you: how many rings does Uranus have? What are stars mostly made of? If you answered "11" and "balls of gas," you're right. But if you didn't answer correctly, don't worry. You still have a shot at becoming an astronomer.
Secrets of the Moon
On a clear night, you can see the moon easily. It's the brightest object in the sky. But ever wonder how it got there? Now, for the first time, we're getting a better glimpse on what happened 4.5 billion years ago.