Mother with severe heart failure gets second chance at life

Local News

Doctors at Rochester General Hospital are using modern medical therapy to give patients new hope, and another chance at life.

Trenell Filkins, a mom of four from Corning, is one of these people taking a chance on the new medicine.

Filkins has been living with heart problems, including cardiomyopathy , since she was 23 years old. She visited many different hospitals over the years and received a lot of bad news.

“I’ve always thought that I would pass away before I got any help and they told me when I first got diagnosed with the cardiomyopathy that most people live between 5 and 10 years and that would’ve put me at I think 30 at the time,” said Filkins.

It wasn’t until she found Dr. Scott Feitell from Rochester General that she started to have hope again. He told her about the possibility of having an LVAD, or left ventricular assist device, put in surgically. This is a mechanical pump that takes over the function of the left side of the heart.

The device is currently in its third generation, and it serves as an interim device for a heart transplant.

Filkins had the surgery on Wednesday morning.

Her surgeon, Dr. Soon Park, said the LVAD is just beginning to take off. It just got approved to be used as long term support destination therapy 3 months ago. Dr. Park thinks in the next 10 years the implant number for LVADs could increase 10 fold, and help many more people like Filkins.

There are small limitations people will face after having the surgery, such as not being able to swim, having to charge the device’s battery, and taking blood thinners. But he said the trade-off is worth it and the quality of life is “immensely good.”

Our sister station in Elmira spoke to Trenell’s husband who told them the surgery went well. Once she is released from the hospital, she will need rehab and 24 hour care.

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