When Josephine Harris first had bypass heart surgery in 1995, she thought she’d get better in no time at all. But what followed were a series of angioplasties and stents and a diagnosis of chronic heart failure.
“The doctors told me I had approximately 10 to 15 percent of my heart function left,” Harris says. “I was so weak that I had to lay down and rest in the morning after I got dressed.” Harris had heart failure so frequently that she was readmitted to WakeMed almost every six weeks.
On January 6, 2000, Harris was enrolled in the WakeMed Heart Center's Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Program. Marian Uy, RN, coordinator of the CHF Program, called her weekly to help optimize her care, but in spite of her efforts, Harris continued to deteriorate.
Uy talked to Harris's cardiologist about a new defibrillator/bi-ventricular pacemaker, thinking it might help Harris regain some quality of life. When her doctor agreed that the mechanism was the best option for Harris, Uy explained the procedure to her, finally asking her, "What do you have to lose?"
An electrophysiologist implanted the device September 14, 2000, and Harris says the surgery has given her a whole new lease on life. "I feel like I’ve been revived," explains Harris. "When I get up every morning, I jump out of bed and look forward to another day!”
Harris credits Uy and the CHF program with saving her life, and these days she's living it to the fullest. She recently flew to San Diego to visit her daughter, something she never would have attempted a few years ago. “I never used to make plans for tomorrow, because I didn’t know if I’d be here,” Harris says. “But now things are different. Now I plan for the future.”