Tonawanda News

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September 29, 2013

Wheatfield's Tim Synor comes home with a new heart

WHEATFIELD — The otherwise fortunate Tim Synor of the Town of Wheatfield is recovering nicely after experiencing a deteriorating heart and receiving a heart transplant, and wants you to know about organ donor awareness, but that’s the happy ending to a harrowing story. 

Envision a man, 47, whose enviable life includes wife, family, home and career, healthy except that a flu-borne virus from nine years ago is attacking his heart’s left ventricle and he’s on his way to heart failure. Non-ischemic viral cardiomyopathy, it’s called.

“No one ever told me heart failure is progressive,” he recalls. 

“He was okay, with medication, and was pretty good until last August”, said his wife Cathie. “He lost weight, got so sick.”

Two weeks after baby Caitlyn was born in January, joining her big brother Nathan, now 2, a long hospital stay began for Synor, with the enervating brutality that came from each step in receiving a new heart.

There was waiting, months of it, at the University of Rochester Medical Center (also referred to as Strong Memorial Hospital). There was sickness, lots of it, and testing and medication. There was a balancing act of striving to remain in a curious window of opportunity, sick enough to require a new heart but healthy enough to survive the surgery. There was one visit per week from his family, including his newborn, somehow both motivating and, well, heartbreaking. There was wondering if this was the day he died, or if it’s the day he’s saved.

His hospital room had a view of Mercy Flight’s helicopters, arriving on and departing from the roof, and with every landing Synor wondered if the helicopter had a package for him.

“A race to the finish”, he now casually says.

“Five months” of it, said Cathie. “Some days he was good, some days he wasn’t.”

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