50th Adult Heart Transplant

December 03, 2019

After living what he describes as a health “rollercoaster” nearly his entire life, Alex Lacroix’s heart finally failed in late September.

The North Miami resident had been living with end stage heart disease for more than two years, with a previously implanted left ventricular assist device (LVAD) helping his weakened heart pump enough blood to keep him alive.

But, ultimately, even that technology wasn’t enough.

“I had no choice but to be hospitalized until I got myself a transplant,” said the married father. “That’s how I ended up here under the care of all the great nurses and doctors who kept me afloat until I could get this wonderful miracle.”

“Here” was the Memorial Transplant Institute at Memorial Regional Hospital and Lacroix’s “miracle” was the 50th adult heart transplant performed at the Hollywood facility, a successful surgery that took place November 3.

I-Wen WangAfter a post-surgical stay for observation and recovery, Lacroix was home well before Thanksgiving and will enjoy the holiday season with family and friends. 

“It (the transplant) was something I was expecting, something I wanted, but when it finally happened, I was like a kid with a new toy. But like a kid with a new toy, you find out you don’t even know how to play with it,” said Lacroix. 

MCVI was the first facility in Broward County to offer heart transplantation services for adults and the more than 50 lives it has now saved in the past five years represent a significant milestone in the program’s development.

“This is just one step in what we anticipate our program will become in terms of scope and services we can provide down the road,” said Memorial Healthcare System’s chief of adult heart transplants Dr. I-wen Wang, the cardiac surgeon that performed Lacroix’s procedure.  

Lacroix’s speedy recovery (he was home just 2½ weeks after transplant) is due, in large part, to a team of specialists that worked on his case before, during, and after surgery. That included advanced heart failure cardiologists that specialize in transplants, cardiologists, electrophysiologists, a dedicated operating room staff, imaging experts, certified nurses, critical care specialists, and a support team that features social workers, psychologists, nutritionists, and pain management specialists.

It’s a multi-disciplinary approach to total heart care that has delivered South Floridians outcomes that compare to the best in the U.S.  

While Dr. Wang expects Memorial’s program to reach new heights as it grows and develops, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate the accomplishment at hand.

“Every transplant is exciting to me and brings with it its own personal and professional happiness. Each brings a unique sense of personal triumph in how we’re able to help these patients.”