LVAD a lifesaving bridge for heart patient Eddie Gunter

Posted on 1/31/2016

Eddie Gunter had been a truck driver for 32 years when a heart attack changed his life forever at age

He was in his truck at the time, traveling through North Carolina on an exceedingly hot summer day. When he felt the first signs, he wasn’t sure what was happening.

“I couldn’t see too well,” Eddie explained. “I thought I was having a heat stroke.”

He got on the radio and called for help moments before passing out behind the wheel. Thankfully, two other trucks were close by. In a daring rescue, they pulled up alongside Eddie and sandwiched his vehicle between theirs, guiding him to the nearest rest stop. When he woke up, seven hours had gone by and he was in a North Carolina hospital where he was treated before returning to his home in Lexington, SC, and becoming a patient of Palmetto Health Heart Hospital.

Two years later, Eddie started experiencing progressive debilitating symptoms of heart failure and continual chest pain that was not being relieved by medication. Eddie consulted with Palmetto Health physicians and elected to have a Heart Mate II® left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted in him. LVADs are mechanical pumps that assist the heart’s function and blood flow. The pump receives
power from a battery pack that is worn outside the body. The Advanced Heart Health Center at Palmetto Health Heart Hospital is the only facility in the Midlands that offers LVAD implants to patients in need of mechanical circulatory support.

Eddie was able to go home two weeks after surgery. Right away he noticed the benefi ts of increased cardiac output. Within two months he was walking three miles several times a week and proudly participated in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.

After more than a year with the LVAD, Eddie received a heart transplant at Duke University Medical Center. Even though he no longer requires mechanical circulatory support, he continues helping the LVAD patients of Palmetto Health Heart Hospital.

“They’re like my family here. When I walk into this hospital, I feel like I’m home.”

American Heart Month Events

As we celebrate American Heart Month this February, join cardiologist Patrick J. McCann to learn about the causes and symptoms of heart failure plus the latest solutions for survival, including left ventricular assist devices.

Heart failure: a survival guide

To register, call 803-296-CARE (2273).

Love your heart by attending any of our free heart health seminars during February. For more information and to register, go to


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