Ross's story of heart transplant

A DCD heart saved my life

Imagine being told you’d be dead within 12 months unless you have a heart transplant.

That was the reality Ross Tripodi was facing just before Christmas 2019.

He’d been feeling ill for months but had no idea he was suffering from heart failure until he was told by cardiologists at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney that he’d have to go on the transplant list.

Ross smiling after surgery at St Vincents Hospital

Sadly, Ross’s kidney began to fail, and he ended up in ICU and was put to sleep. The next day he woke up with a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) inserted in his heart. This artificial heart pump would take over the role of his left ventricle until he got a transplant.

Ross recalls: “It was apparently touch and go. They told my wife Lyn that I might not survive. But when I came to, Lyn told me that I was ok, and that I had an artificial heart keeping me alive.”

Ross soon began to feel better and got the call that they had a heart for him. In April 2020, he underwent heart transplant surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital.

He says: “I felt amazing when I woke up. There was no pain and within two days I was up and about walking and just felt better and better.”

Ross, from the Sutherland Shire in NSW, ended up spending around five weeks in hospital after contracting an infection, but he says he now feels near perfect.

The former mechanic says: “I’m 57 and go to the gym. I’ve got a few aches and pains but that’s just to be expected.

I never thought I would have this quality of life after a transplant. I’ve got the highest respect to the team at St Vincent’s who do such a fantastic job.

“I’ve seen my daughter turn 21, my nephew & niece married and I’ve even trekked 20km in the Snowy Mountains.”

Panel of photos - Ross on mountain top, Heart-shaped cake celebrating his first heart transplant anniversary, and then Ross with family

Ross was one of 74 Australians who have received a DCD heart from a brain-dead donor – a technique developed by a team at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and St Vincent’s Hospital, using the Heart-in-a-Box technology.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land, the Gadigal of the Eora nation, on which we meet, work, and discover.
Our Western Australian laboratories pay their respect to the Whadjuk Noongar who remain as the spiritual and cultural custodians of their land.

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