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Joplin man spends Valentine's Day thankful for his life - KOAM TV 7

Joplin man spends Valentine's Day thankful for his life

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While many people celebrate Valentine's Day with candy hearts and flowers, at Mercy Hospital's annual Valentine's Day Luncheon Richard Zaccardelli celebrates being alive.

"I know that I have to wear it, I know the alternative," says Zaccardelli.  "Fifteen years ago I had bypass surgery.  They couldn't put in hearts and balloons back then, the blockage was too long.  Since then I've been taking care of myself through Doctor Corcoran."

"We've treated him with angioplasty and stints and more angioplasty and more stints and so on and so forth," says Francis Corcoran, MD.  "We finally got to the point where there was nothing more we could do."

In August 2012 Zaccardelli suffered another heart attack.  Since there weren't many options he was sent to Saint Lukes in Saint Louis.  After months of rehabilitation and exercising it was there that he had surgery to implant a Left Ventricular Assist Device - LVAD.

"The left ventricle is the main pumping chamber and that's the one that people with heart disease tends to fail and so this device basically takes most of the blood out of the left ventricle and then mechanically pumps it into the aorta which is the big blood vessel," says Dr. Corcoran.

There are four or five patients in our area that use the LVAD but officials say about 30 people per every 100,000 need them.

While many attending the luncheon thanked Zarradelli for speaking, he thanked them the best way he know how.

"I can now say 'thank you from the bottom of my VAD," Zarradelli says.

For the rest of his life he'll have to carry about five pounds worth of batteries and equipment to keep it running 24/7.

Today was Zaccardelli's ten week mark from having the surgery and says he was thankful to spend it with friends and family.

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