SWANTON — In the early hours of Dec. 29, 2017, Swanton’s Kevin Daignault, 55, and his wife Susan were on the road to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). After only months of waiting, Daignault was scheduled for a heart transplant.

By the end of the day, the lifetime Swanton resident and former North Hero road foreman had undergone an hours-long heart transplant surgery in a Massachusetts operating room, eventually waking up with both a new heart and a new chance at life.

This surgery was long overdue, Susan Daignault said, explaining that it came after years of heart problems troubled her husband.

For the last ten years, Kevin Daignault had been struggling with cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation (AFib) and congestive heart failure. Essentially, Daignault’s heart muscle was thickening and losing the ability to effectively pump blood at regular intervals. As problems progressed, there was little cardiologists could do with medicine alone.

“He saw different cardiologists, and finally it was a couple years ago that [his doctors] told him there was nothing they could do medicine wise,” Susan said.

Finally, when Daignault met with cardiologist Johannes Steiner, MD, a University of Vermont Medical Center specialist also on staff at MGH, Daignault was given a stern warning.

“If [Kevin] didn’t change his way of living, he only had a year left,” Susan explained.

With Steiner’s referral, Daignault was directed toward a transplant. On Oct. 19, 2017, Daignault underwent surgery for a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a mechanical device used to stimulate blood flow in the presence of a failing heart, and was placed on the transplant list. The LVAD, powered by external batteries wired into Daignault’s chest and controlled by an external control unit, would keep Daignault alive as he waited for word of a donor’s heart.

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