WAUWATOSA — Celebrating a transplant that likely saved the life of a 6-year-old boy more than a decade ago — that’s how one Mazomanie family is spending its Friday.
Vincent Forseth was the first patient in the Midwest to get an artificial heart used to prolong the lives of children with end-stage heart disease. Forseth was born with two holes in his heart, but that never stopped his determination to win.
“Things started to go downhill. I was getting weaker and skinnier, and at the point that I was as white as a piece of paper and I couldn’t lift my head out of bed," Forseth said.
That was 13 years ago, when he was 6. It's essentially a temporary fix for children prior to a heart transplant. It's comparable to a heart pump used in adults.
“The Berlin heart is the only FDA-approved pump that we have for small children, and it’s allowed us to keep kids alive longer, get them healthier, and allowed them to have better transplant outcomes," Dr. Steven Kindel said.
Vincent now visits the hospital about every three months for a routine checkup. Today he’s just a week shy of his 20th birthday, healthy, in college at Southwest Tech, athletic, and taller than he ever thought he’d be.
“The Berlin heart is the only FDA-approved pump that we have for small children, and it’s allowed us to keep kids alive longer, get them healthier, and allowed them to have better transplant outcomes." — Dr. Steven Kindel
“I didn’t know what would happen in the future, really. I didn’t know if I would need another heart transplant, or if I was capable enough to do things that other kids can do," Forseth said.
Despite taking about eight medications each day throughout the years, Vincent found out he’s more than capable. He said he was the first person to have used a Berlin heart and make it to the top of Yosemite. With determination like his, doctors agree it’s hard not to be inspired.
“That’s an inspiration to not just to heart kids but to anyone with a chronic disease,” Kindel said.