September 21, 2021 – In a historic first-ever milestone for Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone, a team of pediatric cardiac surgeons successfully replaced the heart of Maz Zisan, an 18-year-old boy from Brooklyn Heights with end-stage heart failure on August 28, 2021.
Maz suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a rare heart condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, making it hard for his heart to pump blood to the rest of his body. It's estimated that one in every 500 people have HCM, but a large percentage of patients are undiagnosed because many people with the disease have few, if any, symptoms, according to the American Heart Association. As HCM progresses, it can cause problems in the heart's electrical system, resulting in life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or heart failure.
"Heart transplantation was the only lifesaving option for Maz to have an improved second chance at life," saysRakesh Singh, MD, medical director of the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program, pediatric cardiologist and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone. "The successful completion of our first transplant is a testament to the teamwork within Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone."
What Led to the Patient's Heart Transplant
Since Maz was 14-years-old, he regularly worked out at the gym, taking on a special interest in mixed martial arts. "Overtime, I noticed how quickly I would become short of breath and slowdown in comparison to my friends in cardio-related activities," recalls Maz. "I would take pre-workout supplements and drink high amounts of coffee to try and keep up, not thinking much of it."
In December 2019, Maz suddenly fainted when leaving an SAT practice test at his high school. He was rushed to a local hospital in Brooklyn and diagnosed with HCM, a shocking finding for Maz and his family. Since his out-of-the-blue diagnosis at 16-years-old, he's had to sit on the sidelines as his friends played sports, worked out, and did normal activities that tired him much quicker than others, suffering from continued episodes of palpitations, dizziness, and passing out.
Maz was brought to Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone shortly after his diagnosis to see Frank Cecchin, MD, the Andrall E. Pearson Professor of Pediatric Cardiology and director of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology. He immediately placed a defibrillator to protect Maz from life threatening arrhythmias and started him on a few cardiac medications to manage the condition. In June 2020, Dr. Cecchin referred Maz to Dr. Singh within the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program to manage his ongoing heart failure symptoms. Dr. Singh led the team in evaluating Maz to see if he would be a good candidate for a transplant.