Man gets new heart in time for Valentine's Day

February 15, 2011 4:21:42 AM PST
Valentine's Day makes the heart beat just a little faster and a bit stronger, especially for one Chicago transplant patient who is now home from the hospital.

Vaidas Paulis got a new heart just two weeks ago- during the middle of the Chicago Blizzard of 2011. On Valentine's Day, the 42-year old was released from Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

"I didn't feel a thing," said Paulis about his second heart transplant. He had his first heart transplant six years ago -- and it was failing.

"I don't know if I would say I was dying. But I was slowly deteriorating," Paulis said.

The name of his donor or where that person was from is not known. But when the heart became available, the Blizzard of 2011 was roaring through Chicago, which presented a problem. Even with the whiteout conditions, the ambulance carrying the heart made it to the hospital in time for surgery.

"Organs come by randomly, and those are the cards you're dealt and you deal with what you have. But everything worked out actually quite well and had no problems ... getting the organ in time," Dr. Robert Gordon, cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said.

Paulis has also had a kidney transplant, which went well.

"You hope for best and prepare for the worst but there wasn't a doubt in my mind that this was going to happen," Jodi McManamara, Paulis' fiancee, said.

A happy, heart healthy Valentine's Day for the soon-to-be married couple. How will they celebrate?

"I'm going to order a Lou Malnati's pizza," Paulis said.

Just one slice- says the doctor.