May 17, 2021

Heart transplant patient warns others not to ignore symptoms of heart attack

Heart transplant patient warns others not to ignore symptoms of heart attack

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Nigel Richardson received quite a surprise on Monday. The UCHealth heart transplant recipient received a check for $110,000 from the Dawg Nation Hockey Foundation.

Richardson has worked as part of the group for years to raise money for other families in times of crisis. But on Monday it was his turn to be on the receiving end. The 58-year-old from Indian Hills had a heart attack in late March.

“The first symptom was just profuse sweating,” Richardson said. Then, he said, came the pain in his chest and neck. Later came the nausea. But since Richardson leads a very active lifestyle skiing, fishing, biking, and playing hockey, he assumed he just pulled a muscle.

“I was in utter denial that I could possibly be having a heart attack,” he said.

Richardson waited 18 hours to seek help and did extensive damage to his heart.

“I made every mistake. I should not be alive,” he said.

He was transferred to UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in early April in bad shape.

“His heart could not pump enough blood to supply his body,” said Dr. Muhammad Aftab, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the hospital.

On April 11, surgeons performed a heart transplant.

Richardson was released 10 days later with a mission to raise awareness about organ donation and to spread a simple message: “Don’t ignore the signs,” he said.

Doctors say if you are experiencing pain in your chest, neck, back or arm, as well as fatigue, light headedness, sweating, heartburn, or nausea, seek help right away.

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