Danny Kim’s Journey to Heart Recovery: Man Survives Heart Attack While Swimming

My name is Danny Kim. I am 55 years old and I’ve always lived an active lifestyle. I swim laps three times a week at my local gym and I thought I was in good health. So, it was a complete shock when I suffered a massive heart attack in the pool and nearly drowned. A lifeguard and other swimmers pulled me out of the water and used an automated external defibrillator to shock my heart. I was then rushed to Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, MI.

Once I arrived at the hospital, I was brought to the catheterization lab in cardiogenic shock with an ejection fraction of 15% and water in my lungs. My interventional cardiologist, Veera Pavan Kotaru, MD, inserted the Impella CP® heart pump to allow my heart to rest while a stent was placed. I was then transferred to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI, for escalated care. After just one day of support, my heart had recovered and the Impella® was weaned and explanted. Upon completion of cardiac rehab, I returned home with my native heart and a normal ejection fraction (55-65%). 

Today, I’m enjoying spending time with my wife. I continue to regain my strength using a virtual reality boxing program until I can return to the pool. I’ve also committed to eating a whole-food, plant-based, heart healthy diet. 

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