All I want for Christmas is a new heart


For Immediate Release

December 19, 2013


LHSC patient successfully receives a heart transplant following at home wait thanks to new device

LONDON, Ontario –Few people will receive an early Christmas present as precious as the one Suzana De Sousa received at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) in October – a new heart courtesy of an organ donor.

“I hoped that I would receive a new heart before Christmas,” says De Sousa, a mother of two boys from Kitchener, Ontario. “I will begin a new year with a new perspective on life.”

After a heart attack, De Sousa was diagnosed with congestive heart failure by Dr. Peter Pflugfelder, cardiologist, LHSC. She, like many patients with advanced heart failure, had to remain in hospital hooked up to intravenous pumps providing life-saving medication while waiting for a heart transplant.

She was then only the second patient at LHSC to receive an internally implantable device that provided circulatory support and allowed her to leave hospital while continuing to wait for a donor heart. The device is called the HeartMate II Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) developed by Thoratec Corporation.

“The device increases blood circulation which allows patients to better participate in rehabilitation and enhance their nutritional status”,” says Dr. Dave Nagpal, LHSC cardiac surgeon. “Ultimately, they are stronger and better transplant candidates.” Four patients have now received an LVAD device at LHSC.
“I felt strong, capable and healthy while waiting for my heart transplant at home,” adds De Sousa. “I was certainly more active and it meant that I went into surgery in better physical shape and in a better state of mind.”

Dr. Bob Kiaii, cardiac surgeon, and the cardiac team at LHSC, successfully performed De Sousa’s heart transplant at LHSC’s University Hospital on Oct. 23. “Her pre-operative condition was optimized,” he says. “She will only get stronger as she continues her rehabilitation and recovery following the transplant.”

"The London Transplant Gift of Life Association passionately celebrates Suzana De Sousa's life. A loving family saved Suzana by saying yes to donating their loved one's heart," says Jane Tucker, president, London Transplant Gift of Life Association. "Over the holidays I ask that you also consider giving the gift of life. There is no longer a donor card in Ontario, but it only takes two minutes and your OHIP number to register as an organ donor online at It is important to tell your family, or your next of kin, of your intention to be a donor."

“Thank you to the donor of my heart and his or her family. There are no words to express how grateful I am,” continues De Sousa. “I encourage everyone to register and be a donor.”

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is home to the country’s longest running heart transplant program, with over 600 transplants performed since it was established in 1981.


About London Health Sciences Centre

London Health Sciences Centre has been at the forefront of medicine in Canada for 138 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, the Kidney Care Centre, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, a joint research initiative with St. Joseph’s Health Care London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 65 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit

Contact Information:

Marek Kubow

London Health Sciences Centre

Corporate Communications and Public Relations

519-685-8500, ext. 75155

After-hours assistance:

Call LHSC Switchboard at 519-685-8500 and ask to page the communication consultant on-call


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