Atlanta, Ga. (August 2, 2013) – On Saturday, Aug 3, Casper “William” Rogers of Coleman, Ga.; his daughter Marie Troupe of Douglas, Ga.; and Piedmont Heart Institute interventional cardiologist Charles Wilmer, M.D., will go fishing together to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Rogers receiving his left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a mechanical heart that helps his heart pump oxygen-rich blood to his body.
“We are so grateful to have daddy still with us,” said Troupe who explained that her family went camping for a few days at Lake Walter George in Fort Gaines, Ga., to celebrate the July 24th milestone. “It was the perfect place to be.”
In late June 2011, Rogers and Troupe shared the cost of a pontoon boat so the family could spend time together fishing on the lake, also known as Lake Eufaula.
On September 15, 2011, all those dreams nearly came to an end.
“I had never been to Piedmont or knew much about the hospital,” Troupe said. “And then, daddy had a heart attack. Within a day or so, his heart was failing, and the doctors and nurses said nothing else could be done. When they wanted to discuss disconnecting the machines from him, we called a friend of the family who had said Piedmont might be able to help. Daddy was soon in a helicopter on the way to Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, September 18, Dr. Wilmer was the interventional cardiologist on-call for Piedmont.
“We resuscitated Casper and almost had to put him on ECMO,” Dr. Wilmer said. Extracorporial membrane oxygenation keeps blood flowing through the body and to critical organs while the heart takes time to heal and stabilize. “But, his heart function was able to keep up. So, we focused on how to help his heartdo its job.”
Piedmont Heart Institute physicians implanted a defibrillator and pacemaker during the more than three weeks Rogers was in the hospital. And after some ups and downs, Rogers was in an ambulance on his way back to southwest Georgia, where he would spend several months recovering.
“Early on, as a family, we agreed that we trusted Dr. Wilmer and that we would do whatever he believed was best for daddy,” Troupe said. “And, daddy came home.”
In June 2012, Troupe and her sister Roxie Taylor, also of Douglas, Ga., were meeting between Coleman and Douglas so Troupe, who is a nurse, could change Rogers’ cardiac infusion medication bags. Despite the intense medication therapies Rogers was on, he had gone back to work as Randolph County Superintendent.
“I could tell he was struggling and didn’t feel good,” Taylor said. “We called Dr. Wilmer who said to bring him to Piedmont. And, off we went with no clothes packed.”
Troupe said they stopped once to get Rogers some food and needed help getting him out of the building because he was so weak. “By the time we got to Piedmont, his oxygen level was 61. I had never seen a level that low,” she said.
A left ventricular assist device would be the next level of care for Rogers.
“I am living my life now. I have to be sensible, but the LVAD allows me to do pretty much anything I want to do,” said Rogers, who is back working 40 hours a week for the county. “You should see me out on my boat fishing.”
Rogers and his wife Lenita have shared their story with the community. They want to show others that the LVAD not only allows you to live, it allows you to live a good quality of life.
“I’ve been promising Dr. Wilmer that I would take him fishing on my boat once I had the LVAD,” Rogers said. “It’s going to be the best thing ever.”
Dr. Wilmer said he wouldn’t miss it for the world.
“I am very grateful to my family—Lenita, Marie, Roxie and my sister, Judy Rogers, for staying with me through night and day and thick and thin until I recovered,” Rogers said. “We owe it all to the Lord, Jesus Christ.”