For Rovin Mahadeo, 2020 started with a life threatening diagnosis. His heart was failing—and it was unclear if he would live to see his 40th birthday.
“I got very lucky,” said Mahadeo.
The Richmond Hill resident first survived testicular cancer in 2013, but the chemotherapy lead to heart failure.
He spent three months at Elmhurst Hospital last year before he was transferred to Mount Sinai in January.
“He was really within hours of death and we had to rush him to surgery back in January in order to put in some life-support devices to keep him alive,” said Dr. Ani Anyanwu, a professor and vice chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at Mount Sinai.
“They tried to save the old heart,” said Mahadeo, but Mahadeo’s doctors explained his heart was too weak and he needed a transplant to survive.
As he waited for his new heart, the coronavirus pandemic hit the city.
As hospitals became overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, non-essential surgeries were halted. Heart transplants were among the few procedures that continued.
In March, Mahadeo received the news he was waiting for—the offer of a new heart.
His doctors had a decision to make.
“In the middle of the pandemic, weighing the risks and the benefits of a heart transplant, we really felt a transplant was in his favor. That he would benefit in the long run,” said Dr. Sumeet Mitter, an advanced heart failure and transplant specialist at Mount Sinai.
After 10 hours in surgery, the procedure was a success, but the road to recovery was just beginning.
Mahadeo was on immunosuppressants so his body wouldn’t reject the new heart, leaving him extremely susceptible to the coronavirus.
“It was really difficult because we now have to nurse him in effectively makeshift intensive care units because our main intensive care units were now taken over by COVID patients, because at the peak we had several hundred COVID patients admitted at any time,” said Dr. Anyanwu.
And for Mahadeo, this also meant recovering without any loved ones.
“When corona happened, they stopped all the visits. So it was kind of scary,” said Mahadeo.
But he credits the hard-working doctors and nurses at Mount Sinai for the gift of life, allowing him to celebrate his 40th birthday.
"I know, I'm blessed,” said Mahadeo.