Heart transplant

Cincinnati man needs help getting to California for heart transplant

CINCINNATI — An East Walnut Hills man needs a medical flight to California to get a heart transplant.

Robin Washburn says her fiancé Orlando Brooks was normal and healthy a year ago when they started planning their life together. Then one day in March, she said Brooks woke up breathless and very tired.

“They did an EKG and some tests and determined he had congestive heart failure,” Washburn said.

During this hospital visit, doctors gave Brooks heart medication and a “heart-healthy” diet. Washburn said he was fine for about four months, then he started feeling unwell again.

“They did more tests and found he had a condition called amyloidosis,” Washburn said. “What it does is it attacks the organs and in Orlando’s case it attacked his heart.”

She said he also developed a rare blood cancer. Since September, doctors at UC Health have been monitoring his condition. Washburn said his heart was getting weaker day by day.

UC Health is in the top 10% of heart transplant recipients, but doctors said they couldn’t perform open-heart surgery locally.

“Given the complexity of his case, especially the fact that he has multiple myeloma [Blood Cancer] we, along with the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic, have determined that we cannot offer him a heart transplant,” said Jennifer Cook, MD, physician at UC Health. “Each patient is special to us and there is nothing we will not overlook.”

UC Health is working with Brooks to help find a hospital that can perform the surgery.

“We got the call last week that Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles could help,” Washburn said. “Getting him there is very expensive because they say he should be airlifted for medical reasons.”

Washburn said Brooks’ medical insurance refused to pay the cost of the flight. So a family friend created a GoFundMe page to help him get to California.

“Just the outpouring of all friends and family and even strangers has been overwhelming,” Washburn said. “It just got us through our days. You know that support really helps.

The family’s goal is to raise $20,000. So far they have received over $5,300 in donations.

Click here to donate.

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