Date: September 1, 2013
HEARTWARMING REUNION: On a recent morning marked by hugs, laughter and tears, Orlando DeFelice celebrated the 30th anniversary of his heart transplant at The Johns Hopkins Hospital with staff members involved in his care over the years.
Nurse practitioner Diane Skojec, clasping hands with DeFelice, was his first transplant nurse coordinator. DeFelice’s cardiologist, Ed Kasper, center, has cared for DeFelice for the past 20 years. And transplant nurse coordinators Deb Carter, far left, and Kate Shagena have stayed in close touch with DeFelice and his wife, Pam, far right. This medical milestone makes DeFelice one of the longest-living heart transplant patients in history.
“I have truly loved you with both of my hearts,” DeFelice told the group. Though DeFelice, 58, has suffered setbacks, including needing a kidney transplant, he continues to work full time as an accountant and business analyst. “He’s doing great,” says his wife, “He’s going to ball games, bicycling and working around the house. And we have a date night every week.”
The DeFelices have also become organ donation advocates, and they mentor patients at Johns Hopkins patient transplant conferences. “They are a big inspiration,” says Carter. ”It’s really rewarding for patients who are new in the process to see what Orlando has done.”