Patient Story: Mandra and Brad

We really didn’t know what kind of time Brad had left. To be able to, a few years later, start a family has been just such a blessing for us.

Before he had a life-saving heart transplant in 2007, Brad Biscornet was a warm-hearted, jovial, and active guy. He’s the same way today.

Despite being born with congenital heart disease, doctors were able to effectively manage Brad’s condition for many years. However, as his condition continued to decline and complications intensified during his early 30s, it became clear that he would need a heart transplant to save his life.

Referral to Brigham and Women’s Hospital

All of his life Brad had received his care at Boston Children’s Hospital. Because his symptoms were worsening and he was now an adult, his doctors recommended that he transition his care to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Boston Children’s Hospital and BWH collaborate on a “bridge” program called the Boston Adult Congenital Heart (BACH) Service that is dedicated to long-term care for patients with congenital heart disease.

As his health more fragile, doctors spoke with Brad and Mandra about the possibility that he would need a heart transplant at some point in the future.

A few short months after they were told he may need a heart transplant, Brad and Mandra found out that the possibility had become reality – transplant would be necessary.

Brad was scheduled to meet with the BWH transplant team but the evening before his appointment his condition had deteriorated so much that he needed to be brought to Brigham and Women’s Hospital by ambulance and was admitted to the hospital.

Mandra said, “Soon after being admitted, and after several meetings with the transplant team, Brad was placed on the transplant list. We were told that he would need to be hospitalized until the transplant.”

Because she was not able to bear the thought of Brad being alone, Mandra spent each night by his side – commuting back and forth between the hospital and work. When she could not stay at the hospital with Brad, her sister Serra – whom they were both extremely close to – filled in and kept Mandra up-to-date.

Personalized plan

With Brad’s heart functioning poorly, it became clear he could not wait too much longer for a new heart. He began having complications and his name needed to come off the transplant list.

“Brad’s doctor came in to our room with a plan. It would require jumping through hoops and filling out detailed paperwork, but he wanted to make the case for us,” said Mandra. “We got the sense that the transplant team was discussing my husband’s case and that they were going to come up with solutions and options to a very scary and complicated situation.”

Brad’s transplant team initiated an exemption process where they would go before a consortium of transplant directors to explain the case and hopefully get him back on the list. The emergency exemption was granted, Brad was back on the list as a priority, and shortly thereafter a donor heart became available.

Mandra said, “Now we had a shot at more time together and the chance to live a very different life.”

Above and beyond the risks associated with transplantation, Brad’s surgery was complicated by other health factors that the surgeons needed to address. After transplantation and a few weeks of “ups” and “downs”, Brad – with Mandra by his side – made it through recovery with his new heart.

Two gifts – a new heart, a new son

Brad looked at his new gift as a way to not only save his life, but also to restore his life. It even inspired him to take on a role that wasn’t considered realistic before he received a new heart – fatherhood.

“Brad was so sick that we couldn’t look forward to doing something like that. We really didn’t know what kind of time Brad had left,” Mandra explained. “To be able to, a few years later, start a family has been just such a blessing for us.”

Their blessing – a son, Darby – arrived on March 9, 2012. Mandra had a normal pregnancy and delivery, and a fetal echocardiogram revealed a healthy heart for Darby.

Brad now is not only well enough to play with an energetic son, but also to fight fires. He resigned from the Tyngsborough (MA) Fire Department after his condition deteriorated in 2007, and one of his biggest post-transplant goals was to return to his hometown firefighting unit.

To become a firefighter again, Brad faced physical challenges at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy that would be considered difficult for anyone. That included dragging hoses while battling flames and carrying heavy equipment while climbing ladders.

In 2012, he completed the 250 hours of classroom and hands-on training and graduated from the academy to become a certified firefighter once again.

Thanks to a selfless donor, Brad’s life was saved. Now he’s ready to use that gift to help others.

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Patient Story Video: Mandra and Brad

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