Susan Mahler of San Diego, California, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2000, and thanks to medication and the care she received at Kaiser Permanente, she fared well until 2003 when breathing became difficult. Doctors at Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center replaced some of the former elementary school principal’s heart valves, but during the surgery, they discovered that the left side of Susan’s heart had stopped working. A week later, Mahler was put on the waiting list for a new heart. With the help of the valve replacement, a defibrillator, medications and “incredible care,” Susan “absolutely lived” until 2009, when she found herself back in the hospital. Susan learned that the right side of her heart was failing and her internal organs had begun to shut down.
Over the next year, Susan was in and out of the hospital. Then on June 20, 2010, she received “the magical phone call from Los Angeles.” At 11 p.m. that evening Susan went in for her heart transplant. Five hours later, said Mahler, “I had life back.” Today “I am doing everything I can possibly do within the course of a day,” said Mahler who enjoys daily gym workouts, traveling and entertaining. “I absolutely would not be doing any of these things if it wasn’t for Kaiser who cares.”