Imagine being in the prime of your life, working, playing sports and loving the outdoors only to find out your heart is giving out. That's what happened to one Salem man.
At a first glance Phillip Adams looks like a healthy 42 year old, but a closer look reveals a fanny pack around his waist and two rectangular batteries in his back pockets. Those are a few signs that something is not quite right.
It was nine years ago when life took a sudden and scary turn for Adams. The guy who loved surfing and snowboarding got the diagnosis when he was just 33.
"It's called idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Idiopathic means that they don't understand or know what caused it," Adams said. "It could have been a virus when I was young a fever or anything like that."
What they did know, Adams heart would need help. Doctors installed a pacemaker to control his heart beat and a defibrillator to jolt his heart just in case it should give out. Then several years later, this past November surgeons implanted a pump inside his chest.
"It actually pumps the blood through my heart," Adams explained. "It pulls the blood from my ventricle and pumps it back around like it's supposed to go."
The pump is controlled by a device in this pack on his waist. It's powered by two rectangular flat batteries that fit into each back pocket on his shorts.
Adams also keeps something else in his pocket at all times. the cell phone as he waits for the call from the University of Virginia. He's been on the waiting list for a new heart since April.
So far he's had one false alarm. "They had me in the operating room on the table ready to operate. The surgeon was looking at the heart in his hands and decided at the last minute it was not the right heart.," Adams said.
On the day we visited with Adams he walked with us outside through his parent's front yard and played guitar on the front steps. He's loved music since he was a teenager when he also played football for the Franklin County Eagles High School team.
How does he feel these days? "For the most part everyday I do pretty good," Adams said, though he admits it's been a challenge.
He looks forward to getting back to snowboarding, being outdoors and going back to work as an environmental engineer. "I'm planning to return back to that. That's my goal. That's what keep me going everyday."
How You Can Help Adams
Adams also loves cars and is a member of the Bethel Baptist Church. Proceeds from the 5th annual Bethel Baptist Church Car Show Saturday at the Salem Civic Center will go to help with Adams' medical expenses. At least 200 vehicles are expected. The show is outside from 11am until 3pm. Saturday September 28th. Admission is free. The people who show their cars do pay a fee. Refreshments will be on sale.
If you'd like to make a direct donation to help Phillip Adams an account has been set up at Carter Bank and Trust. The deposits can be made at any Carter Bank and Trust location and should be made to the Phillip A. Adams Heart Transplant Fund.