November 26, 2022
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NYC dad celebrates successful organ transplant on Father’s Day

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A New York City dad has celebrated his successful organ transplant on Father’s Day. The transplant includes a new heart, new lungs, a new kidney.

Steve Quinn and little Ciara plan to celebrate a particularly poignant holiday with a walk through the park Sunday, only three months after the rare triple organ transplant where he spent 11 life-saving hours in surgery under the care of three separate surgical teams.

“They kept stressing I was going to be good afterward,” said Quinn.

“All I could focus on was seeing my daughter go to kindergarten, sitting down for donuts with her, going to daddy-daughter day things. It was tough.”

His single-mindedness was reflected in his simple post-surgery wish list, written on a hospital whiteboard: “To be able to play with my daughter.”

The desperately-ill Quinn arrived at NYU Langone Health Manhattan Campus on Jan. 19, spent a half-day in the operating room on March 22, and finally returned home on April 15.

The extraordinary surgery was done for the first time ever on the East Coast, said hospital officials, with the post-op nearly as daunting as the actual operation.

“He had to learn how to breathe again,” explained Dr. Nader Moazami, professor of cardiothoracic surgery and surgical director of heart transplantation.

“He had to live with the pain and after being on his back for that long, do the physical rehab, get back on his feet.”

When the 40-year-old Quinn began experiencing shortness of breath in June 2021, red flags immediately started flying. He was diagnosed at age 23 with Goodpasture syndrome, a rare auto-immune disease that attacked his kidneys, and received an organ donated by his brother.

But doctors quickly realized this new health crisis was something different and potentially deadly. By September, Quinn could barely walk across a room.

Dr. Bernard Kadosh, assistant professor of medicine and cardiologist who specializes in heart failure, recalled Quinn’s heart was “hard as a stone” during an early exam, leading to complications with his other organs.

“The pressure in his lung was so bad he would never survive a new heart transplant,” said Kadosh. “He’s a young guy, pretty robust. We had to do something for him.”

The Crown Heights resident received his new organs one at a time: First the heart, followed by the lungs, and finally the kidney. All came from the same donor.

“The end of the operation — I mean, it feels great,” recounted Moazami. “We did the best we could do, we accomplished something. But it also feels like we haven’t had the final play. It’s like we’re at the two-minute warning. We’re almost there, but something can change.”

Quinn acknowledged it was initially hard to remain optimistic after the surgery.

“You feel horrible, it’s no fun at all,” he recalled. “Once you come to, you’re not in pain. But you look down, and there’s so many tubes in your body. It was really tough for the first two weeks, and then you get stronger.”

After returning home, the rehabbing Quinn said he couldn’t walk to the end of his block. He’s now up to a mile, and recently took a trip with wife Sarah Pelkey to visit his in-laws.

“I never thought of it as miracle stuff,” said Quinn. “But I get it. The doctors made sure I knew what a gift it was. I was really luck to get this. Now I’m trying to do what I have to do to feel like a regular guy.”

Quinn adds that he’s never met the family of his donor, who signed off on their loved one’s gift of multiple organs.

“If I ever have the chance to meet them, I’d say ‘sorry for you loss and thank you for the selfless gift’,” he said.

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