WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — A Wilmington family will be celebrating a Father’s Day that almost didn’t happen. Revolutionary medical technology is keeping a young father alive.
His heart was failing, but instead of getting a transplant, this young dad is living with a heart pump, an ordeal that was triggered by a viral infection.READ MORE: First Responders, Family, Friends Attend Viewing For Fallen Firefighter Lt. Sean Williamson In South Philadelphia
Father’s Day is extra special for Chris Donges, who has an 18-month-old daughter Logan with his fiancé Meghan Carter.
“I’m just very, very grateful for everyone that’s in my life right now helping me through this process,” Donges said. “So, we’ll definitely celebrate.”
His survival is what they’ll celebrate.
At age 30, Donges was diagnosed with heart failure.
“I looked at her and just, I started crying,” Donges said. “I was a perfectly healthy 30-year-old who happened to have this viral infection that literally just, it took me out. It came out of nowhere.”
“When he first came to us, he was close to dead,” said Dr. Stephen Chrzanowski with the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
Chrzanowski and the team at Penn Medicine outfitted Donges with Abbott’s HeartMate 3, a new age smaller heart pump with fewer complications.READ MORE: 21-Year-Old Woman Dies During Crash In Philadelphia's Mayfair Section
“The pump itself that moves the blood is magnetically levitated so there are no areas where there can be what we call blood trauma areas where the blood cells can be damaged,” Chrzanowski said. “So it helps make it a lot more durable and helps reduce the risk of clots forming.”
On Instagram, Donges has chronicled his journey.
“This pump literally connects to the left ventricle and just kind of, it does the pumping for you and it really gets the blood where it needs to go,” Donges said.
The heart pump is attached to an external unit Donges wears in a backpack that also carries the batteries.
“There are bad days and good days,” Carter said, “but you know at the end of the day, this HeartMate 3 has given him back his life.”
And the ability to celebrate Father’s Day with Logan.
“It’s a joy that you don’t know, you’ve never experienced until it happens,” Donges said.
Donges received the heart pump in 2018 before the pandemic.MORE NEWS: GUIDE: Where To Watch Fourth Of July Fireworks In Philadelphia Region
But now, doctors are seeing more cases like his where COVID-19 causes viral heart disease myocarditis.