Maz Zisan, 18, was diagnosed with end-stage heart failure before a team of pediatric cardiac surgeons successfully replaced his heart about three weeks ago.
Zisan 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.
"Heart transplantation was the only life-saving option for Maz to have an improved second chance at life," said Dr. Rakesh Singh, 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."
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Since Zisan was 14, he regularly worked out at the gym, taking on a special interest in mixed martial arts.
"Over time, I noticed how quickly I would become short of breath and slow down in comparison to my friends in cardio-related activities," he said. "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, he suddenly fainted when leaving an SAT practice test at his high school. He was rushed to a local hospital in Brooklyn and diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a shocking finding for Zisan and his family.
Since his out-of-the-blue diagnosis at 16, 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. He suffered from continued episodes of palpitations, dizziness, and fainting.
Zisan was brought to Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone shortly after his diagnosis to see Dr. Frank Cecchin, the Andrall E. Pearson Professor of Pediatric Cardiology and director of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology.
He immediately placed a defibrillator to protect Zisan from life-threatening arrhythmias and started him on a few cardiac medications to manage the condition.
In June 2020, Dr. Cecchin referred Zisan 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 Zisan to see if he would be a good candidate for a transplant.
"It was clear after months of monitoring Maz that he was quite limited in doing basic things around the house and outside," Dr. Singh said. "A treadmill stress test in March showed a significant decline in his exercise capacity, and given his continued heart failure symptoms despite maximal medical management of his HCM, the only option for improved quality of life was a heart transplant."
He was put on the transplant waiting list on April 9 of this year, and on August 26, he got a call that a donor organ was available.
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The transplant procedure was performed by Dr. T.K. Susheel Kumar, surgical director of the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program, pediatric cardiac surgeon and associate professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and Dr. Nader Moazami, surgical director of adult heart transplantation at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute and chief of the Division of Heart and Lung Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support.
"He is healthy and going home today thanks to the excellent care he received at every level especially within the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program here at NYU Langone," Dr. Kumar said. "I am grateful to everyone that took care of Maz and feel fortunate to be a part of a team that constantly strives for the best outcomes for each of our patients. It was our privilege to see this transplant through and I couldn't be happier for Maz and his family."
Zisan is looking forward to starting his first semester of college, where he will study mechanical engineering and get back into mixed martial arts with his new heart.
Only 12% of heart transplants are among children, roughly 600 worlwide every year. Most of those surgeries happen in the United States, but this was the first pediatric heart transplant at NYU Langone.
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