Dr. Misselbeck says LVAD technology has improved over the years. The current version used at Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute, the HeartMate 3™, has been used since late 2017. “It’s very dependable and reduces a lot of the complications we saw with earlier LVADs,” Dr. Misselbeck says. “Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute continues to tackle even the toughest heart problems with the latest technologies.”
“I feel great. It was a good move,” says Ciappetta, who now goes to cardiac rehabilitation near his Scranton home. “It’s part of my life now. I’m getting used to it.”
LVADs are considered a long-term solution for patients like Ciappetta, says Dr. Hodavance.
Ciappetta, who goes by Joe C. on stage, is back to singing, though not like in the old days with his former group, Tuesday at Eight. The name came from the day and time they practiced each week. Their group was sometimes on the same card as classic acts such as The Drifters, The Mystics and Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge.
“I feel great. It was a good move. It’s part of my life now. I’m getting used to it.” – Patient Joe Ciappetta
The Ciappettas say Joe received “unbelievable” care at LVH–Cedar Crest from everyone, including the LVAD team. “They [LVAD team] are amazing. We couldn’t have done anything without them. They were with us every step of the way,” Ciappetta says.
Ciappetta adds everyone at LVH–Cedar Crest genuinely treated him like family. “The nurses dressed in blue, and I used to call them my blue angels,” he says.
Denise Ciappetta says Joe was breathing on his own immediately after the LVAD procedure. She recalls being overjoyed at talking with him when she entered his hospital room after the operation. “All I did was cry, I was so happy,” she says.
Dr. Hodavance appreciates the praise for the LVAD team, a dedicated group with whom patients feel a real connection. LVAD coordinators keep things moving smoothly for both patients and doctors. “Our patients very much feel like members of our family,” Dr. Hodavance says. “We get to know everything about them.”
The team, Dr. Hodavance says, works together and everyone’s input is respected. “It’s very much an open dialogue about how we can best serve our patients,” Dr. Hodavance says. “It’s gratifying for everyone to have such a big impact on patients’ lives.”
When you see Joe Ciappetta out singing, he’ll be wearing his usual fishing vest. That’s where he keeps the LVAD batteries and wires that help keep his heart beating and his voice singing. And he’s glad to be able to give back to people, using his wonderful voice.
He still has the prostate cancer to address, but right now he’s got his life back.
“I’m blessed. I’m loved. I’m alive,” says Ciappetta. “That’s the main thing.”