HEALTH & FITNESS
Prayer and love inspire recipient
of second heart transplant.
Staff photos by Armando Rios
The Chain of Love made by Erik's children.
Special to the Jewish News
omplete strangers saved Erik Morganroth's life;
not once, but twice. The 37-year-old married
father of two from Birmingham is recovering at
University of Michigan hospital after his second success-
ful heart transplant. He was admitted to the hospital Jan.
15 when doctors discovered the first transplanted heart
he received 12 years ago at the age of 25 was failing.
"We found he had an unusual combination; his body
was rejecting the heart, and he had a condition that nar-
rows the arteries of the heart',' said U-M cardiologist Dr.
John Nicklas."We were able to treat him for the rejection,
but the narrowing of the arteries was causing potentially
life-threatening arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
and that's why the second transplant was needed."
Morganroth was on an organ transplant waiting list for
nearly a month, awaiting a new donor heart that was the
right size and blood type match for his body. That heart
finally became available March 15 and he was rushed into
Erik Morganroth with his children, Emma and Max.
surgery, which was performed by Dr. Frank Pagani, direc-
tor of U-M's adult cardiac transplant program. Less than
5 percent of patients who get one heart transplant receive
a second one.
"I got the call around 11 o'clock that night and I
went straight to the hospital;' said Erik's wife, Andrea
Morganroth. "It was scary and exciting, and we're just
so thankful. Within about 24 hours after surgery, he was
already awake, sitting up and drinking tea. It's just incred-
ible how he's bouncing back from this."
During the two months he was hospitalized, Morganroth
kept in constant contact with his two young children,
Emma, 6, and Max, 4, through a computer Web cam. One
camera was attached to a computer in his hospital room;
another was hooked up at the family's home. The Web
connection enabled the young father to remain a daily
presence in his children's lives. While his wife visited the
hospital every day, his children could not. The ability
to see and talk to them each morning and night helped
Morganroth remain positive during those long days of
waiting in the cardiac unit.
"My room is wallpapered with art my kids have made
Morganroth said by phone about a week before his sur-
gery."I believe in the power of prayer and the power of
"He's the most amazing, dedicated father; there's
nobody like him:' Andrea said. "I told [the children],
`There's a problem with Daddy's heart, and he's most like-
ly going to have surgery.' I didn't go into too much detail."
Twelve years ago, Morganroth made medical history.
Doctors at U-M Hospital kept him alive on a heart-pump-
ing device for 34 days; at the time, that was twice as long
as any other person in the world. He was deathly ill and in
need of a heart transplant after a viral infection attacked
his heart and caused it to become enlarged, rendering it
ineffective. Erik's first transplant, which was featured in a
Detroit Jewish News cover story, was performed in 1995.
During that operation, Morganroth received the heart of a
woman in her 30s. He knows little else about the donor.
"I was very sick at the time. I was so ill it took me sev-
Heartfelt Gift on page 20
March 29 2007