Doc Talk: Living with heart failure

Doc Talk: Living with heart failure.

Newschannel 3's Erica Mokay introduced viewers to a heart failure patient who is proving there is hope.

Usually, when someone is diagnosed with heart failure, their life expectancy is 3 to 5 years, but James Kenneth Hatfield, known to his friends as Ken, was diagnosed in 1998, which means that he has been living with heart failure for almost two decades, proving it's a condition that can be treated.

A diagnosis and disbelief. Hatfield was in 30s when he found out he had heart failure.

He said, “I don’t scare too easy. I mean, man or beast, but um...yea... It kind of worried me that I wasn't going to be around here to see my grandkids grow up and stuff. That was the biggest thing.”

Since that time it has been almost 20 years of test, treatments, procedures and countless medications, but Ken keeps going.

Amy Shaffer, Registered Nurse and Heart Failure Clinic Coordinator, said, “He has had every treatment, every drug, he's had everything for heart failure he's just a testament to everything that is advancing for heart failure. He's still here because of it.”

The latest thing helping his heart is a device called the Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), which basically functions for the heart by pumping blood, letting the left side rest and giving ken a chance to enjoy those grandkids.

The device is one of the many treatment options that will be discussed at a heart failure conference happening here at Borgess.

Rosalind Lee-El, a Registered Nurse and Clinical Nurse Educator, said, “That's what it's all about. We want our patients to have that improved survival, and quality of life and we have an opportunity to impact that.”

Hatfield said, “It’s good for anybody else in this position to not think there ain’t no hope or stuff like that, you know? It can happen, you know, it just depends, I guess, on the person and the people you got around you.”

Hatfield is waiting to get on the list for a heart transplant and a lot more time.

He said, “I hope I’m back to square one and I get another 20 years out of this ole' body.”

The 6th Annual Heart Failure Conference, The Faces of Heart Failure, is set for November 13 at the Lawrence Education Center and health care providers from all over Southwest Michigan are invited, and encouraged, to attend.

Advance registration is required by Nov. 10 and more information can be found at or you can register by phone at (269) 226-8135 or (800) 828-8135.

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