Wilderness survival instructor, 35, who was shockingly diagnosed with heart failure during routine check-up suffers a STROKE a day after heart transplant
- Doctors discovered Jeremy White, 35, from Spokane, Washington, was in end-stage heart failure after routine knee surgery in June 2015
- One month later, he had a left ventricle assist device (LVAD) implanted
- Blood flows from the heart into the pump and, once the pump is full, the blood passes into the aorta to flow throughout the body
- In December 2018, Jeremy was told a donor heart had been found for him
- One day after undergoing the operation, he suffered a stroke, although doctors are unsure of what caused it
- Jeremy can walk but can’t move much of his right arm beyond his fingers and can say six words, and is currently in inpatient rehabilitation
When Jeremy White was 31, doctors told him that he was in end-stage heart failure.
It was a shock to the wilderness survival instructor, from Spokane, Washington, who had climbed America’s tallest mountains and had swam with sharks – and was still going.
In July 2015, he had a rechargeable mechanical heart implanted as he waited for three years on the heart transplant list until a donor heart became available.
Last month, two days before Christmas, the now-35-year-old finally got the call that an organ had become available.
But, 24 hours after having the operation, Jeremy suffered a stroke that affected the entire right side of his body.
While he can now walk, he can’t move his right arm much aside from his fingers and is unable to speak more than five words.
Jeremy’s parents, Reverends Tim and Cindi White, spoke to DailyMail.com about his recovery and how, despite his incredibly difficult journey, he still hopes to inspire others to remain positives while facing their own adversities.
Jeremy White, 35 (pictured, January 9), of Spokane, Washington, suffered a stroke just one day after undergoing a heart transplant
Jeremy’s parents, Reverends Tim and Cindi White, spoke to DailyMail.com about his recovery. Pictured, left to right: Tim, Jeremy and Cindi
Jeremy, a wilderness survival instructor, underwent routine knee surgery in June 2015. Three days later, doctors discovered he was in end-stage heart failure. Pictured: White hiking mountains in Seattle before his surgery, left, and his surgical cars and the cord that leads to his heart, right
Jeremy was always adventurous but, in June 2015, he had to undergo minor knee surgery to rid him of his arthritis.
However, shortly after waking up from the procedure, he began experiencing chest pains and had difficulty breathing.
‘The doctors were so perplexed by my symptoms as they couldn’t determine why a young, healthy guy was experiencing these problems,’ he said.
After three days of running tests, doctors determined White was in end-stage heart failure.
They theorized that Jeremy’s body was so fit from his world travels that it was compensating for his weak heart.
With no medication working or donor heart available, Jeremy was implanted with a left ventricle assist device (LVAD) in July 2015.
An LVAD is surgically implanted right under the heart. One end is attached to the left ventricle – which pumps oxygenated blood to body tissue – and the other end is attached to the aorta – the body’s main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Blood flows from the heart into the pump and, once the pump is full, the blood passes into the aorta.
Meanwhile, an external controller, a power pack and a reserve power pack remain outside the body.
He waited for years to be told that a donor heart was available until he got the call from the University of Washington Medical Center on December 22.
With no medication working or donor heart available, Jeremy was implanted with a left ventricle assist device (LVAD) in July 2015. Pictured: Jeremy in the hospital after his surgery
An LVAD is surgically implanted right under the heart. Blood flows from the heart into the pump and, once the pump is full, the blood passes into the aorta. Pictured: An X-ray showing Jeremy’s LVAD
He was on the heart transplant for more than three years until he got a call in December 2018 that a donor heart was available for him. Pictured: Jeremy in the hospital on January 7
Jeremy underwent an eight-hour surgery on December 23, which went well, but things took a turn for the worse the next morning.
‘He had given me the task of videotaping his first words, but he couldn’t even move his tongue,’ said his father, Tim.
‘It became obvious after a few hours that his right side was not going to move. And when a nurse came into check up on him, she called a code stroke alert.’
A CT scan show that there was at least one blood clot in the left side of Jeremy’s brain and a couple of other smaller pieces had broken off and were in the speech center of his brain.
Doctors presented two theories as to how Jeremy got the clot.
The first is that with heart surgery, there is always a risk with blood clots traveling.
The second is from a previous clot that he had in mid-2017.
‘The cells of the clot never go away, and with the mechanics of the LVAD, there could have been residue left within the pump traveled to the aorta,’ said his mother, Cindi.
EMTs rushed him over to the Stroke Clinic at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Surgeons were able to remove the large blood clot but, when they tried to remove the smaller pieces from the large clot, Jeremy started bleeding.
Just four hours after he left the University of Washington Medical Center, he was back and doctors were able to get the bleeding under control.
He had the surgery on December 23 but, the next day, he had trouble speaking and moving his right side, which is when doctors discovered he had suffered a stroke. Pictured: Jeremy in the hospital after his stroke
A large clot was in his brain and small ones had broken off, affecting the part of his brain that affects speech. On Wednesday, Jeremy was enrolled in inpatient rehabilitation to begin physical and speech therapy. Pictured: Jeremy in the hospital with a friend from college on January 8, and Jeremy on Mount Adams in Washington, December 2013
Since then, Jeremy’s right foot has regained all of its strength back, and he’s able to walk without the help of a walker.
On his right arm, he can’t move much besides his fingers and the right side of his face is droopy with half a smile.
Tim and Cindi said their son can currently say six words: ‘Um’, ‘Yeah’, ‘Hi’, ‘What up’, ‘Alright’ and ‘Mom’.
Doctors told them Jeremy will need to take 15 medications and supplements – some for the rest of his life, including immunosuppressants so his body does not reject his new heart.
‘The good news is that everything has regained some level of progress. As far as his heart, his heart is doing marvelous,’ Tim said.
‘But he’s not able to sometimes process what you just asked him to do.’
On Wednesday, the Whites’ insurance company approved to move Jeremy in into inpatient rehabilitation, still at the University of Washington Medical Center.
He’ll be there for between three to four weeks, aggressively doing physical and speech therapy.
Tim and Cindi said their son can currently say six words: ‘Um’, ‘Yeah’, ‘Hi’, ‘What up’, ‘Alright’ and ‘Mom’. Pictured: Jeremy in Moiliili, Hawaii, in May 2014
Despite his medical struggles, Jeremy’s parents say he’s remained very positive and just wants to inspire others. Pictured: Jeremy in the hospital on January 5
‘We’re very hopeful and optimistic,’ Cindi said. ‘The doctors are hopeful he’ll make a full recovery but it could take up to a full year.
Despite their son’s incredibly difficult medical journey, both Tim and Cindi say their son has remained extraordinarily positive throughout it.
‘Jeremy showed us three-and-a-half years ago when he had the heart failure that things that shape our lives but what matters is how we respond to it,’ said Tim.
‘He hasn’t blamed God or whined or complained. He’s a fighter and he’s going to go after this.’
Cindi concurs and says her son just wants to inspire others.
‘[Jeremy is] very transparent in everything he puts on Facebook,’ she said.
‘He always ends [posts] with ‘Never give up’, ‘You’ve got too much life to live’ and people are always saying what an encouragement his life has been to them.’