One of the most common health issues facing men is heart disease. A precursor to heart attacks and heart failure, heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in men over recent years.

Unfortunately, even if you are presumably healthy, with no history or obvious symptoms of heart disease, it still may be there. If you think it can’t happen to you, think again.

43-year-old Brandon Ring is a patient of ours at CTVS who has been under the care of not one, but three, of our dedicated cardiothoracic surgeons who, along with a multispecialty team of healthcare professionals, helped him overcome sudden heart failure to see him successfully undergo a heart transplant.

CTVS was the first cardiothoracic and vascular practice in Central Texas to perform a heart transplant in 1986, now having performed hundreds of this life-saving procedure since .

Brandon’s Heart Failure

An active husband and father of two young boys, Brandon had no history of heart disease and was in good health before experiencing a sudden and severe bout of shortness of breath and dizziness last November.

He went to a local urgent care and got an EKG (an electrocardiogram which records heart activity) and was told to head directly to the hospital. Within ten minutes of arriving at St. David’s Georgetown and being evaluated, his heart stopped. Brandon received cardioversion (shock treatment) and CPR to get his heart going again.

Due to Brandon’s sudden heart failure and the severity of his condition, he was transferred to St. David’s Round Rock to undergo emergency heart catheterization and echocardiogram to determine the condition of his heart and medical interventions needed.  During catheterization, they found that Brandon’s condition was even more severe than they anticipated. He had multiple coronary artery blockages with his EF being only 5-10%. His cardiologist Dr. Jerome Thomas and CTVS board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Chance Conner determined his heart was too weak to undergo surgery and elected to insert stents to open the blockages and implant an Impella Heart Pump.

Still, three days later, Brandon’s heart was struggling considerably. In addition, he developed an allergy to heparin and was diagnosed as HIT+, which required a blood platelet transfusion and blood thinner medication changes. He was showing signs of blood clots and circulation issues in his right hand and left leg which caused concern for his team of specialists.

Due to his deteriorating condition, CTVS board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Eric Hoenicke  placed him on ECMO to take over the essential function of his heart and circulate oxygenated blood throughout his body while a more permanent solution was formulated.

“It was determined that stents would not be a long term solution for Brandon, and because of his young age and generally good health, he was an ideal candidate for a heart transplant,” says Dr. Hoenicke .

Waiting for A Heart

CTVS board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Yang helped facilitate Brandon’s transfer to Methodist Hospital in San Antonio for heart transplant workup. He was accepted as a candidate and remained at the hospital on ECMO with an Impella awaiting a heart. He resided there for four months before receiving word in February that a good match was found. On that same day, 40 minutes after the initial news regarding a donor heart match being found and accepted, he was told that surprisingly an even better donor match offer was available.

Brandon’s successful heart transplant surgery was presided over by Dr. Yang and a team of surgeons at Methodist Hospital.


Brandon’s Recovery

Following surgery, Brandon returned home after about three weeks and began his long road to recovery. He started physical therapy to regain strength and was under strict guidance to stay home and avoid public places to protect his delicate immune system while his body adjusted to his new heart.

Brandon says his wife, Courtney, and boys have been amazingly strong throughout it all and he is thankful for his parents support while he was in the hospital. He and his family remain grateful for the continuous prayers of friends, family, church members, neighbors, and even strangers throughout this journey.

He looks forward to thanking the donor’s family for his new heart when the time comes and expressing his gratitude for their generosity that will allow him to have more years with his family.

Heart issues can be silent, and nearly deadly. He urges others to take preventative measures to stay healthy and to get regular checkups and screenings. He also says to not delay seeking medical attention if you feel something is not right.

“I didn’t have any previous heart issues or significant family history of heart disease,” recalls Brandon. “I am a testament that heart failure can happen suddenly to anyone.”

Our team of dedicated surgeons collaborate with cardiologists and specialists to provide the best care and outcomes for our patients, no matter where they are.

For questions about any of our vascular, cardiac, or thoracic services, please visit or call us at (512) 459-8753 to schedule an appointment.

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