Tim Synor considers himself a lucky man. He is recovering from a heart transplant at the University of Rochester Medical Center and recently returned home to his wife, toddler son and infant daughter in Wheatfield.
“I am so grateful to the donor and their family and the doctors and nurses who cared for me. I am also incredibly thankful for all of the support that my family and I received during my illness. I have a new lease on life now. I feel better than I’ve felt in a long time and amexcited to resume my life with my family,” said Synor, 46. His wife, Cathie, 2 ½ -year-old Nathan and six-month-old Caitlyn welcomed him home July 24 , after five months at Strong Memorial Hospital
He received the heart July 7 after life-saving surgery performed by H. Todd Massey, M.D., surgical director of URMC’s Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation. URMC is the only center in upstate New York to perform heart transplants and offer specialized pumps, such as ventricular assist devices.
Synor was diagnosed with non-ischemic viral cardiomyopathy, a form of heart failure, in 2004 and cardiologist Patrick Chan Lam, M.D., of Western New York Cardiology Group, managed his care with medications, cardiac rehabilitation, a pacemaker and defibrillator.
“I was feeling pretty good and continued to work after my diagnosis. My wife and I had our son and we were expecting our second child when my heart function got worse,” said Synor, who operated Synor Marketing for 20 years. He was hospitalized several times in November and December and “being stubborn and worried, I told the doctors that I am waiting for our daughter’s birth. I just had to see my baby girl born.”
Caitlyn was born Jan. 25 and two weeks later, Synor traveled to URMC to see heart failure cardiologist Jeffrey Alexis, M.D. Tests showed his heart function was extremely poor and a heart transplant was needed. He was hospitalized Feb. 20 to wait under the watchful eyes of the doctors and nurses who specialize in heart failure care.
“When I first saw him, he was a very, very sick man dealing with severe heart failure,” Alexis said. He was concerned about how much weight Synor had lost, quite quickly, indicating the gravity of his condition.
“It was really tough not being home to help with my son and the newborn daughter,” said Synor. “I missed my wife and kids so much and cherished the time I got to spend with them when they came to visit me on weekends.”
Just days before Synor’s surgery, his weakening heart began to beat so rapidly that it became dangerous. His defibrillator deployed on four separate occasions, sending a life-saving shock of electricity to bring the heart back into a normal rhythm. Shortly after the defibrillator deployed for the fourth time, doctors were able to tell him that a heart had become available.
“He was quite sick and the timing of his heart was perfect,” Alexis said.
Synor was elated by the news and “it brought overwhelming tears of joy. I waited five months to hear those words.”
There are more than 3,100 people in our country who need new hearts. URMC has more than 40 people on its heart transplant waiting list. Sadly, the number of people in need of new hearts surpasses the number donated every year. Last year, there were just 2,300 heart transplant performed in the U.S. To join the organ donor registry, go to www.donorrecovery.org.
The Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation was established in 2001 and the large team of specialists provides a full spectrum of heart failure care, including heart pumps, total artificial hearts and transplantation. It is a national leader in research efforts to further the treatment of heart failure and return patients that suffer from heart failure to healthy and productive lives.