February Patient of the Month: Ricardo Wants a New Heart for Valentine’s Day

February 11, 2010

In 2007, Ricardo “Ricky” Santiago was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, caused by medication he received as a child during chemotherapy treatments for leukemia. In 2005, doctors implanted a pacemaker to help regulate his heart. Although the pacemaker initially helped, doctors soon realized Ricardo needed a heart transplant to survive. He has been on the transplant waiting list for more than a year.

In 2008, Ricky underwent surgery to have a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implanted, which will act as a mechanical heart until he receives his lifesaving transplant. Despite these challenges, Ricky remains positive and is thankful for the steadfast support of his family. He dreams of being able to pick up his 2-year-old son, Aries, and play with him the way he used to. He looks forward to the transplant that will allow him to once again travel with Jennie and Aries, work on cars, drive, go swimming and simply live life to the fullest.

A heart transplant costs approximately $775,000. And that's only the beginning. Even with health coverage, Ricky will face significant medical expenses. For the rest of his life, he will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications. The cost of post-transplant medications can range from $2,000 to $5,000 per month--and they are as critical to his survival as the transplant itself.

To make a donation to NFT in honor of Ricky, click here. To read an article about Ricky and his family, visit The Day, his local newspaper’s Web site.