Dedicated volunteer with a big heart needs a new heart

Swift Current’s Sammi Khalife is anxiously waiting for a new heart after being placed on a heart transplant list.

Swift Current’s Sammi Khalife is anxiously waiting for a new heart after being placed on a heart transplant list.

Khalife was born with Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy but it was only earlier this year that he began experiencing difficulties with his enlarged heart. Usually it is controlled with medication, but over the past six months he has been on a trial medication which has also not been successful in slowing the advancement of the condition.

“The condition just progressed so fast and so quick in the last six months. My heart function now is under 25 per cent, and that brings it to a dangerous zone which gives me a life expectancy from three months to six months if I don’t get a heart.”

He went to Edmonton on October 1 for an assessment with a specialist to see if he can wait longer for a transplant. If he can’t wait they will consider putting in a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD), and that mechanical pump would support heart function and blood flow to aid his weakened heart.

The 34-year-old notes that he lost a sister at age 16, a brother who was 34, and his mom at the age of 55 from the exact same condition.

Over the summer months he admitted to being hesitant to share his story, but he thought he should come forward so more people could talk about their own experiences and be a support to others going through similar health issues.

“I want to tell them, ‘you might think there’s no support and there is no one there for you. You would be surprised.’ We live in a great community. Swift Current has been great.”

“It is at this point I leave it to the greatest physician up there to help me through it. Again, I’m very lucky for the support I have in the community. Without their support I wouldn’t be able to go through it.”

A Go Fund Me page has been started by Sandra Sadden in order to assist with expenses to travel to appointments and an extended stay in Edmonton.

Khalife currently does not have family in Canada, and he needs to have a caregiver for four months after a heart surgery, so he is bringing his sister from overseas to be his caregiver or he will be ineligible for the surgery.

There are also a few other fundraisers planned to support Khalife, an outpouring of support he was not prepared for.

“That’s something I have never experienced, and I’m humbled to see the support and the care of our community.”

Originally born and raised in Lebanon, and having moved to Swift Current from Halifax only three years ago, Khalife admittedly does not feel like an outsider.

“But I don’t feel I’m new. I feel like I’m part of the community,” he admitted.

There will also be longer term supports needed following his surgery.

“It’s not an easy process, and the recovery is huge actually. You have to stay in Edmonton for four months, one month in the hospital and three month rehab. And after that you come home and you have to arrange for Home Care, Physiotherapy, to do all of that at home. You’re expected to be anywhere from one year to a year and a half off work.”