Share on facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share This

Guillermo's story

When Guillermo was in 7th grade, his brother bought him his first pair of running shoes. Sparking a true passion for the sport, Guillermo began running every day and soon began participating in 5Ks and 10Ks.

“I fell in love with long distance running in the late 90s, and ran my first marathon while living in Sao Paulo,” said Guillermo. “But none are closer to my heart, figuratively and literally, than the Boston Marathon.”

Guillermo ran his ninth marathon and second Boston Marathon in 2011. He started out the day strong, and felt great after running the race in 3 hours and 32 minutes. 

Soon after crossing the finish line, he collapsed. Boston EMS stabilized him and transported him to Tufts Medical Center.  

Not a typical heart attack 

At Tufts, our CardioVascular Center and Emergency Room teams assessed Guillermo and confirmed that he had suffered a massive heart attack.

Because his heart was not pumping enough blood to his vital organs, the team called Navin Kapur, MD, Director of the Acute Mechanical Circulatory Support Program. Dr. Kapur is internationally known for his experience and expertise in interventional cardiology and mechanical circulatory support. 

Dr. Kapur's first priority was to stabilize Guillermo's heart and to ensure enough blood was circulating to his vital organs. Using a non-invasive approach, Dr. Kapur inserted a pump to take over a significant portion of the heart’s workload, allowing Guillermo's heart to rest. While the pump ensured adequate blood flow and oxygen to vital organs, Dr. Kapur and his team were able to unblock Guillermo's arteries and make necessary repairs.

Guillermo was unconscious in an induced coma for four days, so Dr. Kapur shared his treatment plan and updates with Guillermo's wife and sons, who had flown up from Florida to be by his side. The family, and Guillermo, are grateful to the Tufts team for anticipating their needs and providing them with comfort and information during this stressful time.

After 10 days at Tufts, Guillermo was stable enough to be sent home to Florida to be cared for by his local cardiologist. Dr. Kapur and his team ensured a smooth transition by communicating closely with colleagues at the University of Miami. 

Impacting patients around the world 

In 2011, most patients who suffered the devastating type of heart attack that Guillermo did had a low chance of survival. Because Dr. Kapur is a leading expert in acute mechanical support and had years of clinical expertise in innovative treatment approaches, he was able to ultimately save Guillermo's life. 

Guillermo was one of the first patients to receive this innovative treatment. His case has led to clinical trials and FDA approval of a new avenue for therapy that has led to better outcomes for many heart attack patients around the world.

And what's next for Guillermo? He's running again and has come from Florida back to visit his friends at Tufts Medical Center often. He looks forward to his next visit, with one goal in mind - getting Dr. Kapur ready to run side-by-side with him in the 2019 Boston Marathon.

An illustration of a heart at Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston, MA.

The Journey to a Heart Transplant

Understand how we treat each individual heart transplant patient at Tufts Medical Center.

View our Infographic