Fall 2018
Gratefully Yours

Pumping strong

Brad Forrest

Dear Dr. Liao,

Thank you for saving my son’s life—and my life.

I remember holding my then-6-month-old son, Dylan, in my arms in the ICU in October 1985 and telling my mother it was OK to let go.

Her new heart was pumping strong, but because of an infection that consumed her body, she was never taken off the ventilator following what otherwise appeared to be a successful transplant.

About a year after her death, I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and learned that I’d probably be destined for an eventual heart transplant as well. I also learned there was a possible genetic connection to the disease.

I kept as fit as possible, and with a good deal of luck, I managed to continue with my job, raise a family, and enjoy my life. However, as my condition progressed, I dealt with heart rhythm problems that required multiple hospital stays and surgeries.

When my active son started experiencing significant fatigue and lack of stamina when participating in activities he’d previously handled easily, he came to University of Minnesota Health for care, even though he had moved out of state. Since you addressed the structural issues his cardiomyopathy had caused through open-heart surgery, Dylan has been doing very well and doesn’t even need medication.

And more than 30 years after my initial diagnosis, on a Friday afternoon in February 2017, I got the call from Dr. Cindy Martin: “We’ve got a heart for you.” As luck would have it, I got to have you as my surgeon, too.

Six weeks after my transplant, I was thrilled to be back on a bicycle, riding 15 miles and feeling great. My wife, son, family, friends, and I are grateful to you and all of the professionals at the U who helped to make this possible.


—Brad Forrest, in a letter to University of Minnesota Health cardiovascular surgeon Kenneth Liao, M.D., Ph.D.