BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – A former UAB hospital patient has beaten the odds and is now a Guinness World Record holder.
Seth Wharton, 44, is celebrating more than 31 years since undergoing heart surgery in 1990, making him the longest survivor of an artificial double heart valve replacement.
“I am so grateful that God spared my life and for the role UAB played in it,” Wharton said in a statement shared by UAB. “I am living proof that you can have a full life after this procedure, and I hope people can find comfort in it.”
Wharton’s heart problems began just four days after he was born when doctors in Maryland discovered he had an enlarged heart, according to a UAB press release. At age 13, when he received his treatment at UAB, Wharton underwent three open-heart surgeries, six heart catheterizations, five blood clots, and two heart valve replacements.
His family were reportedly concerned that Wharton was not leading a normal life after the procedure, but just a year after the operation, Wharton earned his black belt in karate.
“To live this long after a double heart valve replacement is a remarkable achievement for Mr. Wharton,” said Dr. James Davies, director of the UAB Cardiovascular Institute and Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. “Cases like Mr. Wharton’s are why our cardiothoracic surgeons strive to provide the best possible care to each of our patients. We are happy to hear that he is doing well. »
Wharton now lives in Maryland with his wife and four children and is a palliative care chaplain at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in western Maryland, which he says allows him to help others through difficult times.
“In my role as a hospice chaplain, I hope to use my story to help others through similar experiences,” Wharton said. “We never thought I would have the life I have today, and when I have the chance to share my experience with others like me, I want to give them hope for the future. coming.”