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Patient Story: Heart Transplant Hopeful Builds Strength With Facility Dogs

April 3, 2024

With the support of Tufts Medical Center nurses and facility dogs, Hunter is building his strength and looking forward to going home to wait for his heart transplant.

Patient Hunter with Bob and Dottie

Nineteen-year-old Taylor Swift super fan, Hunter, is making strides in the hallways of Tufts Medical Center. In July 2023, Hunter was working as a waiter and had worked 3 double shifts in a row before taking a well-deserved day at the beach with friends. He got a severe sunburn on the beach that day and when later that evening he could not sleep and was having trouble breathing, he thought his asthma might be acting up. Hunter eventually visited a local emergency room, where his doctors discovered a blood clot in his lung. Hunter was transported to Tufts Medical Center via airlift in September where he has been ever since.

First a patient of Tufts Medical Center's Cardiac Surgical Intensive Care Unit (CSICU), Hunter began building up his strength so that he can be placed on the heart transplant list. Tufts Medical Center's CSICU is a newly renovated, highly specialized unit with expert staff to provide the best care to patients like Hunter. Philanthropic gifts provided the necessary support for the renovations that have helped improve the lives of critically ill cardiac patients. With posters of Taylor Swift to motivate him along the way, Hunter has been supported by nurses and our philanthropy-funded facility dogs, Bob and Dottie as he builds his strength, slowly taking more steps each day. Now Hunter has progressed to a less critical unit, the Cardiomyopathy Center and is looking forward to going home to wait for his transplant.  

"Having a birthday in the hospital is certainly less than ideal," says Hunter, while celebrating his nineteenth birthday in the CSICU, "but I got to say, these dogs have helped me through everything so much and made my bad days so much better."

Dottie joined us in May 2023 after completing her training to be a certified hospital facility dog. Dottie joined Tufts Medical Center's first facility dog, Bob, to bring extra joy to the patients and families of the Medical Center. Generous philanthropic gifts made it possible for Tufts Medical Center to benefit from Bob and Dottie.  Bob came to us via a grant from Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation in November of 2020. Almost 3 years later, Dottie joined the team after a gift from an anonymous donor.

Now Bob and Dottie are helping Hunter reach his goal and build up his strength so that he is ready for a heart transplant when one is available for him. We are rooting for Hunter and we know that he is in the best hands along the way. Hunter's nurses have set up an email address for him, for anyone who would like to send Hunter words of encouragement on his journey.

Pets + Heart Health
Animals are known to improve our mood and help calm us down. Learn more about pets and heart health from Dr. Brian Downey at Tufts MC.
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For years, Jeff, an active man in his early 40s and an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at a hospital in New Bedford, couldn’t understand why he felt so tired. Neither could his medical doctors. He received various diagnoses, with no improvement in his symptoms.
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Mac's Story
Mac and his team at Tufts MC refused to let cardiomyopathy take his life, so they did all they could to get him to a heart transplant.

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