“My name is Werner Groneberg, and I am a seventy year old shipbuilder from Mannheim. In February 2010 I suffered a major heart attack. I had been suffering from severe heart failure and insulin-dependent diabetes for years. After I got the serious heart attack in February, I had a small defibrillator implanted right next to the heart, which was supposed to automatically kick in when there are heart palpitations, but I was not feeling better. I live in a house without a lift, and would take a long time to get to my doorstep, having to climb 72 steps. I needed to stop on each floor to catch my breath.
Then, cardiologist Dr. Kuschyk from the University Hospital Mannheim told me about the Optimizer System. It was supposed to be a kind of a turbocharger that enhances the pumping capacity of my heart. Of course I wanted to try it. In April 2010, Dr. Kuschyk and his team implanted the device on the right side of my chest.
Since then I’ve been having a lot of trouble at home. My wife (who is 68) complains that I cannot sit still. I am making up for what I couldn’t do in the last few years. I have no restrictions. I feel like a twenty-year-old. In August, I drove my car to Croatia, more than 600 miles without ever changing drivers. I was wide awake the whole time and had a lot of fun. I can now rush through all 72 steps up to my apartment without having to stop and rest. I’m doing things I never used to be able to do.
I always have the charger in my car for safety when I leave home. And when the battery is on 20 percent power (usually once a week), I charge my IPG unit. Normally, I lie down and take my time with it. And it works just fine.
Only one thing irritates me. I find it very strange that many doctors know nothing of this device. The other day I was in a hospital visiting a friend. I had my charger with me, to show it to him. A professor stopped me in the hallway and asked me what it was, and when I explained it to him – he was amazed, since he’d never heard of it before. That got me thinking. I’m incredibly lucky that my doctors knew about the device. For that I am very grateful”.
“I have always worked a lot. I built up three companies from scratch. We provide logistics for long-distance traffic and also services for industrial companies. I work seven days a week – but that’s not a negative stress. It does me good.
Actually, everything started with me not realizing that I was a diabetic. It was late fall of 2005: suddenly my chest hurt. I thought it was muscle tensions from hours of sitting in front of the computer. I went to a physiotherapist but the pain did not go away. Later, I asked my wife to call a doctor, because I didn’t think this was normal. Right then I went into a coma… I woke up 3 weeks later. I was transferred to the St. Georg Hospital in Hamburg, where they discovered I had experienced a serious heart attack, and I was immediately operated on. They took veins from my legs, and put several bypasses in my heart. I was still in a coma and was not aware of any of this. The doctors ran some tests and diagnosed me with diabetes. The diabetes had already resulted in damage to my feet and to the eyes. I had gotten the whole package.
In my job, you need to be one hundred percent fit. The work is very physical, and you often have to get out on site. Logistics company compounds, harbor areas and industrial complexes all have one thing in common: they are big, so you need total mobility. But in spite of the bypasses surgery my physical performance was severely restricted. I could not walk, let alone climb stairs. I was riding in an electric wheelchair, and was not able to work at all for over a year.
Then, one and a half years ago, Dr. Tönnis from the St. Georg Hospital told me there was a new device, a type of heart pump assistance. He asked if I would like to try it, and I was willing to give it a shot.
The operation went smoothly, and the health insurance company (I am a member of the German statutory health insurance) played along. They did not even discuss it with me. How could they, with me having only 30% heart performance? So the only thing I had to pay was the hospital fee. In the first months after the operation I didn’t feel any difference – all-in-all – I was a bit disappointed. On September 13th I started to feel the change. I clearly remember the day because we were coming back from a vacation in Austria when I suddenly realized that I could walk up the stairs. I was able to bend down. My performance was really up. I immediately went for a checkup and the doctors found that my heart performance had doubled – from 30 to 60 percent. Apparently, my body needed some time to respond to the system. Dr. Tönnis later said to me that it can take three to six months to make an effect.
Today I can work again, I can bend down and I can walk around. The procedure really brought me back to life. My performance is back up, and this is crucial for me in my work. Of course I am restricted in various, but minor aspects. So I can’t lift big and heavy items as TV-sets or big boxes. It’s not about the weight, but about the long-range grip with the arms. Of course I also can’t run a 100-meter sprint, but I can walk three or four kilometers. And that’s what matters. I can live normally again”.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS MAY VARY
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- 8. – 11. April 2015 The 81th Annual Meeting of the German Society of Cardiology (DGK), Mannheim, Germany
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