Derek Stipetich Pittsburgh Fitness instructor who recovered from COVID-19 forced to have heart transplant after virus attacks organs 6 months later.
Doctors told Derek Stipetich, of Pittsburgh, that the virus had attacked his heart, leaving them with no option but for the man to give him a new heart KDKA reported.
Prior to testing positive for coronavirus last November, before a vaccine was available, Stipetich, 48, was very active as a fitness instructor as well as a skier. His symptoms at first were mild but began to worsen, prompting concern from his wife and daughters.
‘The weights that I was regularly using were entirely too heavy for me,’ Stipetich told KDKA. His family urged him to go back to his doctors.
Although physicians reassured him in January that everything was fine, Stipetich’s health continued to decline. In April, the fitness enthusiast came down with a cold that left him feeling like he was ‘suffocating’, he told the outlet.
Virus had remained dormant in body before attacking organs
Believing he may have Covid again, Stipetich returned to the hospital where he was told he was seriously ill and had cardiogenic shock – a life-threatening condition in which the heart suddenly can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
‘Throughout all these tests, they came back and said, there is nothing more that they can do for me,’ Stipetich said.
A heart specialist said that Stipetich’s case was a first. The virus appeared to have been dormant in his body for months before attacking his heart.
His kidneys and liver also were failing.
‘His heart had given way to a point that he needed to have his life sustained by a mechanical heart pump,’ Dr. Azam Hadi, an advanced heart failure cardiologist at Allegheny Health Network who treated Stipetich, told KDKA.
‘We were able to turn his shock process around to a point where he recovered his organs except his heart.’
Stipetich waited eight days for a donor heart and is recovering well, despite difficulties with his mobility.
His energy is starting to return and he has turned his attention to a non-profit he created to help heart transplant recipients. Pumping Adrenaline Beating All Odds will assist those whose illnesses are associated with COVID-19.