Noblesville man waits 11 months for new heart

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Steve Smith waited 11 months to receive a new heart. (Photo courtesy of Riley Children’s Health)

Noblesville resident Steve Smith has been recovering after receiving a new heart July 20 after waiting nearly 11 months for a donor heart.

The 36-year-old was admitted to Riley Hospital for Children Aug. 27, 2019. He has had a congenital heart defect since infancy,

Smith stayed at Riley for his transplant because pediatric surgeons tend to deal more with congenital abnormalities whereas surgeons in adult hospitals mostly treat patients with acquired cardiac disease.

Smith is recovering at home and taking extra health precautions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For me, it’s kind of weird because I haven’t had the experience of the pandemic since I’ve been in the hospital, anyway,” he said. “In (the hospital) we are wearing the masks all the time, washing and sanitizing hands all the time, we already did that. This is nothing new for me, but it’s a little different being out in the real world where you’re like, ‘OK, what can I touch and what can’t I touch?’”

Smith said receiving a new heart in the middle of a pandemic was a blessing. He completes three hours of physical therapy each day, and although he’s still limited on what he can do, he said he feels great.

“Everybody should sign up to be a donor because these gifts are very, very important,” he said. “It feels so good to be healthy and recovering.”

Smith said after staying at the hospital for 11 months, saying goodbye to his caregivers was hard. He said the nurses became like family.

“I can’t go back and visit since I’m no longer a Riley kid,” he said. “They sent me to an adult team.”


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