Ascension Seton RN makes house call to ensure patient receives a new heart


On December 30, Seton’s transplant team received word that a heart was available for Roger, a patient who had been living with an artificial heart pump for seven months. Roger, who was well-known to the transplant team, was at the top of the recipient list. But there was a problem: Roger wasn’t answering his phone and Ascension Seton staff only had one hour to find him before the heart would go to the next patient on the donor list. Sarah Witthoefft, RN, started making frantic calls and collaborating with the transplant team to locate him. When a coworker realized that Roger lived nearby, Sarah immediately drove to his house. As it turned out, Roger’s phone had slipped down in the folds of his comforter while he was watching TV. Amidst the excitement, Sarah calmly guided him through packing, soothing his dog and coordinating his ride to the hospital. Sarah considers her after-hours effort as well-deserved: “It was his turn; I didn’t want him to miss this opportunity.” And for Roger, his life changed starting the moment he woke up from surgery. “I heard my heartbeat,” he said. “I haven’t had a regular heartbeat for over 10 years. I became a part of the Ascension Seton family.