For this edition of AlloSpeak! we are excited to feature Mr. Jim Bullard of Piscataway, NJ:
For eighteen years Jim suffered from Cardiomyopathy, a condition that weakens the heart and its ability to effectively pump blood. This condition can develop into a life-threatening form of heart failure. Jim was cared for by physicians at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Somerset, NJ. Jim was on the latest medications and also had a defibrillator implanted to keep his heart going. Jim’s condition reached a point where his ejection fraction, how well his heart pumps with each beat, became less than fifteen percent. This means that his heart beat was only fifteen percent effective in pumping blood.
“As I reflect back on my situation, climbing stairs was out of the question. I had to carry my laptop around on a roller cart. Walking for more than a city block was impossible without being out of breath. Sleeping in a chair at night was the most comfortable position for me because my condition would not allow me to lie down. I spent many nights sitting at my computer reading the news.”
On June 28, 2006, Jim received his heart transplant from Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA at the age of sixty four.
In the first six months after his transplant, there were certain tasks he could not do alone. His wife and caregiver, Lois, had to assume full responsibility for his care, including getting him to and from all appointments, monitoring his medications, and assisting with the emotional and physical aspects of his new life. Jim received AlloMap testing during his early months post transplant, and the AlloMap test is still part of his medical care almost 10 years post transplant.
Jim is now in very good health and enjoying retirement. Physical well-being is high on his priority list. He continues to visit the Robert Wood Johnson Somerset Wellness Center and meets with his medical support team on a regular basis. This team includes his Heart Transplant team, Nephrologists, Cardiologists, Urologists, Dermatologist and Dentists.
“I firmly believe that the transplant team can only give you the heart. You, as a heart transplant recipient, have to assume certain lifelong responsibilities.”
Since his transplant, Jim has been very active in giving back to the transplant community. He is the President of the Second Chance Hahnemann/Drexel University Chapter and the Chair of the Second Chance Heart Transplant Support Group, Second Chance for short.
Second Chance is a local heart transplant support group with over 800 members from the Philadelphia area, Delaware, Southern New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania. Second Chance raises funds to provide financial assistance to heart-transplant patients for any transplant-related need. Second Chance also provides public information and education on matters relating to organ transplantation and donation. To date, Second Chance has given out over $670,000 in patient grants.
Jim is also passionate about volunteering to support the youth and elderly in his community. He is the Assistant Babe Ruth Baseball NNJ State Commissioner and the Piscataway Babe Ruth Chair. He volunteers his time on the Middlesex County Aging Council, the Piscataway Township Senior Commission, and the Cultural Arts Commission. He is also the Ward 2 Piscataway Township Councilman.
Do you know someone who would like to share their story? If so, we want to hear from you! If you are interested in sharing your transplant story with us, or would just like more information about our upcoming events, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.