Tab Lassiter once spent eight months resting anxiously in a hospital bed with cardiomyopathy, a condition that can lead to heart failure. Over a six-year period prior to his stay at Duke University Hospital, he experienced bouts with pneumonia, congestive heart failure, the failure of several heart pumping devices, two strokes and daily shortness of breath.
“Many don't understand the magnitude of how heart disease can contribute to the deterioration of your lifestyle. Something as mindless as taking a shower or going to the mailbox becomes a challenge,” he explained.
However, that battle resumed even after leaving the hospital with a new heart back in July of 2015.
“The unfortunate thing is with a condition like this, you're never really fixed. In a two-year time frame since my transplant, I've gone from no issues whatsoever to literally being listed for transplant again,” he said.
Lassiter, a Shipping and Receiving Team Leader for influenza vaccine leader CSL Seqirus, again awaits the call for his new heart but this time does so from his desk at the Holly Springs, North Carolina manufacturing site for CSL Seqirus.
“I don't say this loosely at all, there’s so much stress associated with it. But honestly, coming to work keeps my mind off of it. I'm surrounded by so many people that I enjoy being around. This is my family away from family,” he said.
While Lassiter was born with his condition, he hopes his story resonates with those around him so they can avoid the same emotional and physical distress that he and his family continue to endure, as many other cardiovascular diseases are preventable.
According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the global leading causes of death. An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attacks and strokes. To raise awareness, he is a strong believer in the power of Heart Walks to shed light on cardiovascular conditions like his own where donations go towards research of new treatments.
The American Heart Association sponsors Heart Walks all over the country throughout the year, though some events are virtual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Find a Heart Walk in your area.
“Just within CSL Seqirus, I’ve seen how the walk has impacted people,” he said. “I even had a coworker learn that they had an underlying issue and got the proper help because of this event. We have to start with just one individual, that’s all it takes to make a difference.”
Lassiter won’t be able to walk in his local event in North Carolina – the Triangle Heart Walk, although he hopes to make an appearance and see you there supporting the cause.