When it comes to heart disease, Bill Soloway has been through it all. Diagnosed at age 31 with an inherited form of cardiomyopathy, Bill was on a downward spiral beginning with a lengthy battle with arrhythmia which took an enormous toll on his heart.
One Christmas, Bill was visiting his parents and he couldn’t even walk the short distance from the car to their house. He felt like he had just climbed Mount Everest. After heading home and not feeling any better, he made an appointment with his electrophysiologist, Dr. David Lin. Bill’s heart was beginning to fail and he was escalated from the arrhythmia team to the heart failure team.
Dr. Anjali Owens seamlessly took over his care. Working with familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy patients, she knew the effects the condition has on the heart. Initially, a number of benchmark tests were performed to assess the heart function and through these tests he was monitored regularly.
After a year of appointments with Dr. Owens, and a year of being on a roller coaster where Bill just did not feel himself, Bill headed into the city for what he thought was just another appointment. But this one turned out to be a milestone, one that was hard for Bill to swallow. It was at this appointment that Dr. Owens sat Bill down and said to him: “This is serious. It is time to talk about a transplant.”
For Bill, a heart transplant was the next step
Immediately the pre-transplant team jumped into action. Dr. Owens told him what to expect and walked him through the process so that he wouldn’t be caught off guard. It was like a well-oiled machine, but one filled with compassion and empathy that Bill has never forgotten. Nurse practitioner Nicole Hornsby took Bill through a series of educational sessions and testing where he learned more about the process.
Bill was put on the transplant list and less than three months later, he got a call that he will never forget (and one that he still has a recording of). It was just after midnight and Nicki, a nurse at Penn said to him, “Mr. Soloway, it’s Nicki with heart transplant. I’m calling you about a potential heart donor, and I need you to come to the hospital right away.” Immediately, Bill and his fiancee Kathy were on I-95 South, straight into Center City.
Hours later, as Bill waited in the pre-op area, he met his heart transplant surgeon Dr. Pavan Atluri for the first time. Little did Dr. Atluri know that while Bill was waiting to be prepped, he had done some research on his surgeon and found that they had something in common: they were both Eagle Scouts. So when Dr. Atluri came in and shook his hand, Bill offered his left instead. Immediately, Dr. Atluri noticed the old scout tradition and proceeded with the left handed shake stating, “I guess you did your research on me.” It was the start of a relationship filled with an innate trust that Bill cherishes to this day. This was the calming moment in a whirlwind of emotion.
Just over a year later, Bill is back on his bike, riding around the roads of Bucks County and getting ready for the next race. This past June, he honored his donor by participating in the Transplant Games of America. We can’t wait to see what’s next for him!