“There have been so many miracles in my life, including the HeartBrothers.”
Karen Klimczak, Heart Transplant Survivor
Karen Klimczak knows a lot about miracles. And she shared her inspiring story at a recent HeartBrothers Foundation webinar.
After living with cardiomyopathy and heart failure for years, Klimczak received a life-saving transplant on New Year’s Eve, 2020, at Tufts Medical Center. She and her family live in Avon, Conn. and needed a safe place to stay during pre- and post-transplant treatment. Tufts social worker Amy Denuzzio recommended the HeartBrothers House.
Amy Denuzzio, Tufts Medical Center
“It’s invaluable,” Denuzzio said. “It’s a safe and welcoming environment where patients and family members can stay.”
HeartBrothers House at Church Park offers luxury suites to heart failure patients and their families during medical treatment for just $30 a night. Church Park is located within 2.5 miles of Boston’s major academic medical centers and features superb amenities, free parking, a fitness center, a doorman, and laundry. It’s near many restaurants and grocery stores, as well.
Tom Bull, a heart transplant survivor himself, is the director of HeartBrothers House.
“The transplant itself is just the beginning of what is hopefully an even longer journey of recovery, physical conditioning, and wellbeing. It is a lifelong journey that at times means multiple hospital admissions, invasive procedures, clinical visits, and the ever-looming threat of acute organ rejection,” Bull explained.
“For patients and families who live far away from the major heart centers here in Boston, these issues are compounded by distance, and an understandable desire to be close to loved ones. Oftentimes, the option of staying at a nearby hotel is financially or otherwise impossible—especially when a hospital admission stretches for months on end. Recognizing this struggle, the idea was born for the HeartBrothers House.”
Tiffany Dunn, Heart Transplant Survivor
Tiffany Dunn of Portland, Maine developed cardiomyopathy and heart failure while she was pregnant and received her new heart on March 31, 2021. Her husband stayed at the HeartBrothers House.
“Once we got Tiffany into the hospital and I headed over to the HeartBrothers apartment for the first time, I was very on edge and anxious. I remember sitting on the couch and next to the television there was a statue of a dog howling at the moon, and I started laughing,” he remembered. “It was the first moment of normal in 24 hours.
“It was the first moment I knew it was going to be okay,” he added. “We were safe and in the right place.”
More than 35 families have already stayed at the HeartBrothers House. Several of those families have babies receiving cardiac care at Children’s Hospital.
“The youngest patient to stay at the house was only a few weeks old, born prematurely with a genetic heart defect and just released from the hospital,” Bull said.
The HeartBrothers House is run by the HeartBrothers Foundation, a nonprofit that serves thousands of heart failure patients and their families with financial and emotional support, and accommodations. HeartBrothers was founded by Pat Sullivan and Bob Romer who spent a year together at Tufts Medical Center waiting for heart transplants.
The HeartBrothers House webinar was generously sponsored by Novartis and Medtronic.