Former Yuba-Sutter resident Ronald Simmons is in need of a new heart. Doctors recently placed him on the list for a heart transplant after he was hospitalized on Jan. 11 and spent over a week in the hospital and a stint in the intensive care unit.
Simmons, 56, was diagnosed with chronic systolic heart failure with ventricular tachycardia. His condition is further complicated by a history of pulmonary embolism, cardiomyopathy, and chronic anticoagulation. There’s also a history of heart disease in his family — his father died due to heart disease on Simmons’ 11th birthday.
The beginning of his congestive heart failure occurred when he developed a blood clot in his leg back in 2007. A few years later, a defibrillator was implanted in his chest to manage his irregular heartbeat.
“It never went off until just recently, when it started going off a lot,” Simmons said. “During my last hospital visit, it went off about 15 times. I thought I was going to die. It kept shocking me, it was pretty scary.”
Simmons lived in the Yuba-Sutter area for about two decades up until 2013 when he moved to Oregon with his family. While in the area, he took a job at the Ranch House on George Washington before eventually moving into construction and roofing. While in the area he also attended St. Andrew Presbyterian Church on Franklin Road.
Simmons’ heart is enlarging and the muscles are weakening, which means the critical organ isn’t pumping as much blood to his limbs as needed. Doctors conducted an ablation to his heart, which is a procedure to scar or destroy tissue that’s allowing incorrect electrical signals, though the procedure is considered only a temporary fix.
Now, all he can do is wait for the call that a new heart is available for him. It could be six months; it could take years. Doctors say a heart transplant is critical for his survival.
“He was put on the list just recently, but we don’t know how long it could take. It’s whenever they get one, and it depends on his health too,” said Denise Simmons, his wife. “…He’s scared. It’s been really devastating for us.”
His heart condition also poses a seemingly insurmountable financial challenge, as the average transplant costs more than $1 million, and that doesn’t include the necessary medication, follow-up care and other expenses that come along with such a procedure. The family’s insurance doesn’t cover it either.
“He would have the procedure done in Spokane, where there’s a team that can do it. He would have to stay there for at least three months after the surgery as well because there are different doctor’s appointments,” said Denise Simmons. “…Ron just wants to have a good heart to be able to do what he used to do, so we can enjoy life to the fullest.”
The National Foundation for Transplants set up a fundraising page for Simmons last week, with the goal of raising $150,000. Twenty-five people had helped raise over $3,000 as of Thursday afternoon. For more information on how to donate, visit https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/nft-ronaldsimmons.
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