Heart Transplant Patient Receives Gift of Life

Phillip and Jaclyn Nanof with their son, Brigham.

Whenever heart transplant recipient Phillip Nanof and his wife, Jaclyn, tell someone their son is named Brigham, it sparks a conversation.

“My overall experience at BWH was so positive, so we felt it was fitting to name our first-born after the hospital that saved my life,” Nanof said. “I wouldn’t be here without the good fortune of receiving a heart.”

In fall 2008, Nanof, then 27, fell ill suddenly. After being treated for pneumonia at a local hospital, Nanof’s condition worsened, and he was diagnosed with severe heart failure, complicated by multiple blood clots in his lungs. He was eventually transferred to the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center at BWH and listed for a heart transplant in April 2009.

After spending several weeks at BWH, unsure if he would ever get better, Nanof received a call one evening in May 2009, informing him that a heart was available. His transplant surgery took place the following day.

Michael Givertz, MD, medical director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, explained that Nanof’s underlying heart problem was idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged weakened heart. While the cause is unknown, Givertz said a viral illness or genetic predisposition may have contributed to his condition.

The Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at BWH is the oldest and largest in New England. Since performing the first successful heart transplant in New England in 1984, BWH has performed more than 670 transplants. In the past five years, BWH has performed an average of 18 heart transplants per year.

Nanof, now a vice president at State Street Corporation in Boston, said he feels fortunate to have been given a second chance at life. About a year after his transplant, Nanof met his wife, and they were married in July 2013. Baby Brigham, who they call “Brigs” for short, was born last May. While Nanof’s health journey hasn’t been easy, he said it would have been impossible without help from his strong support system of family and friends.

“I’m extremely lucky,” he said. “There are a lot of ways this could have worked out. I’m very thankful to BWH and my donor for this extension of life.”

Added Surgical Director Gregory Couper, MD: “The greatest gratification cardiac surgeons get from performing heart transplants is seeing patients return to a full lifestyle. Phillip is a great example of someone who was able to regain his health and resume the activities he enjoyed before experiencing heart failure."