In 1982, Rolando Mattar spent almost two weeks in a Miami hospital after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. His heart’s functional ability to pump blood through his body was reduced by half but gradually improved over several months. As predicted by his cardiologist, his health eventually became worse.
Rolando Mattar is recognized by Brano Radovancevic at the heart transplant program 25th anniversary celebration.
By 1986, he had been evaluated for a heart transplant, was put on the waiting list and couldn’t work or sleep in bed due to fluids building up in his body. He waited five weeks before a donor heart became available.
"I was 32 at the time, married with four kids. I remember coming home and one of my sons was jumping up and down in the yard because the call had come that a donor heart was available for me," said Mr. Mattar. "My brother drove me to the hospital and I cried. I was afraid. I didn’t know anyone with a heart transplant and not in my wildest dreams did I think I would survive five years. I remember I felt better right after the surgery, right away. At first, I didn’t think I was breathing because I couldn’t hear myself laboring for a breath."
Mr. Mattar credits his transplant with enabling him to see his four children grow up. He had another son about seven years after his transplant and calls him his miracle baby.
"I have seen ten grandkids come into this world since then. I still have my mother with me. All this extra time living on this earth…somebody up there likes me," said Mr. Mattar, who is a strong supporter of organ donation. "So many organs go to waste every day and so many lives can be enriched and touched by the generosity of donor families."
Return to Heart Transplant Program Celebrates 25 Years