Daryl and Lori Williams are counting their blessings, which by any measure are plentiful.
Williams received a life-saving heart transplant at the University of Rochester Medical Center and three weeks later, his wife gave birth to a healthy baby girl at UHS Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City.
“We’re all doing great,” Williams said as he held 9-pound, 4-ounce Kensi, born Sept. 26. This is their second daughter. “I can’t wait until we’re all home together. It’s going to be so much better for all of us now.”
Williams, 37, received the new heart Sept. 3 and spent three weeks recovering at URMC’s Strong Memorial Hospital. He returned home on Sept. 21, just five days before the baby’s arrival.
“It’s wonderful to see patients thrive after traumatic heart attacks and in this case, for Daryl to welcome home a new baby is very rewarding for everyone on the team who worked with him,” says Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation.
The Tioga County man was on the waiting list for a new heart for months. The family hoped each day could bring good news.
The former Sheriff’s deputy suffered a massive heart attack in September 2008. He was quickly transferred to URMC where Chen, and heart surgeon H. Todd Massey, M.D., determined Williams needed high-tech heart pumps to survive. The ventricular assist devices are for long-term use in patients with advanced-stage heart failure.
“When he first arrived, he was in acute cardiac shock and we treated him very aggressively,” said Massey. “He did well on the VAD and has endured multiple surgeries to place new pumps and various other procedures.”
When the transplant team called to say a heart had become available, the Williams traveled to Rochester for the lengthy transplant operation.
During their two-hour drive to Rochester, the couple was cautiously optimistic and somewhat surprised, since it wasn’t the hospitalization they were anticipating. Their second child was due in late September and the excitement was building as each day passed.
While Williams recovered at Strong Memorial Hospital, he was unaware of the natural disaster at home. Rains from recent hurricanes caused the Susquehanna River to rise to record levels, flooding the region. Luckily the Williams’ Owego home is on high ground and didn’t sustain any damage, but his father was not as fortunate.
“It’s good that the heart came when it did. A few days later and we wouldn’t have been able to get to the hospital because all the roads and bridges were closed,” Williams said.
As he healed from the transplant surgery, Williams talked with his young daughter about how much more fun they’ll now that he has the new heart. Doctors let 6-year-old daughter Lyndsey use a stethoscope to listen to the new heart beating in her father’s chest
“I will be able to do things with her that we’ve never done. I could never go swimming with her because I had the heart pump. Now I’ll be able to go in the pool with her,” Williams said with a smile. “I want to do all the things I couldn’t do with her before.”