For Miami Valley Today
TROY — A healthy heart, and a giving family, provided Dean Fairchild with a whole new chance at life.
A Covington resident, Fairchild began experiencing issues with his heart in 2010 before undergoing a heart transplant at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center last August.
Following participation in the Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC), Fairchild, 49, has begun working out at a gym and preparing for a return to work at Meijer in Troy this summer.
Fairchild’s heart journey began in 2010 when he felt short of breath while at work.
“I thought I was getting older, out of shape,” he said.
A visit to a cardiologist in Dayton resulted in findings his heart had weakened. The cause was a severe cold in late 2009.
“I got a virus, it got in my heart. My immune system attacked the heart and weakened it,” Fairchild said.
He received an internal defibrillator and pacemaker in 2010 and returned to work full time. He continued with his heart devices and medication until just before Thanksgiving 2017 when a supervisor noticed problems with his speech and his appearance.
He was hospitalized at UVMC before eventually going to Wexner Medical Center last August.
“The emergency room nurses here at UVMC were great. You could see the care in their eyes, which helped. It was the same thing at OSU. The nurses, the doctors, it is amazing the amount of care,” Fairchild said.
In late 2017, he received a Left Ventricular Heart Device to help pump blood to his heart. By June 2018, he was experiencing major heart issues again, and was placed on the transplant list. “I couldn’t walk from my living room to the bathroom without having to stop. It got real serious, real fast,” he recalled.
In August 2018, six days after his 49th birthday, Fairchild received a heart transplant.
“OSU saved my life (in late 2017) and in August they gave me a new life. I will always be grateful,” he said.
The UVMC cardiac rehab program has played a key role since his transplant, helping him regain confidence, and his health, Fairchild said.
“It is close to home for one thing, but it is just an amazing group of people. They make it fun while you are here. They kept you wanting to come back,” he said. “I was always thinking in my head, ‘What are my limitations?’ They are helping monitor you, encouraging you.”
Since the transplant, Fairchild has taken up cooking to eat healthier after watching Food Network shows during his hospitalization. He spends more time with family and friends. He said his partner, David, along with his mother and two sisters were very supportive during his treatment and surgeries, he said.
Fairchild is preparing to meet the family of his heart donor, John, after a six-month period of anonymity ends. He said he had contact with the family by letter and they, too, are interested in meeting. “I really cannot wait,” Fairchild said. “I was really emotional thinking of the family and the gift they gave me. I think about it a lot.”
He also is a volunteer for Lifeline of Ohio, the organization instrumental in the transplant, and at OSU talking about organ donation and with transplant patients.