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Cliff Guiles is not your typical New England Patriots football fan. While thousands of local game-goers donned their cherished “Super Bowl XXXVI Champs” hats at the Sunday, November 24 game against the Minnesota Vikings, Guiles arrived equipped with his Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), a mechanical device that helps maintain the pumping ability of his heart.
Guiles has been awaiting a heart transplant for a year and a half due to congestive heart failure. Because of his LVAD, which was surgically implanted in May 2001, he has been able to lead a relatively relatively normal life at home with his family while he waits for a donor heart to become available.
“Cliff’s LVAD has allowed him to remain very active,” said Greg Couper, MD, Guiles’ cardiac surgeon. “He is quite a good bowler and even mows his lawn.”
However, just over nine weeks ago, Guiles was admitted to BWH as result of a mechanical problem with the device. He is now connected to a Pneumatic Back-up Console, an older version of the LVAD that is not electronic and weighs about 70 pounds. Despite the complexities of his current device, Guiles was able to attend the Patriots game thanks to the efforts of the patient care team at BWH and the Patriots organization.
“We are very grateful that we were able to provide Cliff with an opportunity to break the monotony of his wait for a new heart,” said James Rawn, MD, a cardiac surgeon who attended the game with Guiles. “This wonderful event would not have been possible without the efforts of the Kraft family and the Patriots organization, Richard Zane, MD and Charles Posner, MD (BWH emergency physicians and co-medical directors of Gillette Field), Sarah Thompson and Mary Kay West (8th floor nurse administrators) and all of the care givers who donated their time to make this a safe event.”
Guiles’ current LVAD maintains a battery life of two to three hours before it requires recharging. Therefore, Guiles was able to travel to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, accompanied by a group of medical professionals made up of physicians, nurses and paramedics among others, and recharge his LVAD at the stadium itself upon arrival.
“The Patriots generously provided us with a private press box, as we were unable to view the game from the stands due to the need for electrical outlets to recharge,” said Kerry Walsh, RN, who also traveled to Foxboro. “The box worked out wonderfully, not only in terms of available outlets, but also in that it was heated, which spared us from what turned out to be a pretty chilly afternoon.”
“My experience at the Patriots game was first class all the way,” said Guiles, explaining how he was presented a “Super Bowl XXXVI Champs” hat and commemorative Patriots book. “I am so thankful for my BWH patient care team and Patriots management for making the trip possible.”
Although Guiles hails from New York, perhaps New England’s fiercest sports rival, he was cheering when the Patriots beat the Vikings 27-17.
“The whole trip was just awesome,” said Guiles. “I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity.”