PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh is used to making medical history, and a team of doctors from UPMC has done it again with their first heart transplant from a donor with hepatitis C to a recipient who does not have the disease.
The recipient is a farmer from Oil City named Jerome Eidemiller.
"It's great. I feel like I won the lottery, even though I didn't play," Eidemiller told Channel 11's Katherine Amenta.
Eidemiller and his wife, Elaine, said the knew they were facing an uphill battle starting in 2002 when he started having heart trouble. By 2017 things were looking dire.
"They said, 'We really need to start thinking about a transplant,'" Eidemiller said. "A man with this body size and there's a lot of people waiting for the same thing."
That's when UPMC's surgical director of heart failure and heart transplant stepped in.
Dr. Christopher Sciortino and his team had an idea, and asked Eidemiller if he wanted to take part in a trial.
"I didn't say anything right away because he had to make the decision first," Elaine Eidemiller said.
In April, he signed on and within two weeks a heart became available.
The surgery was a success, and thanks to a run of medicine starting the day after Eidemiller is doing well and doesn't have detectable levels of hepatitis C.
"When something breaks, you fix it. You don't worry about it," he said.
Cox Media Group