Thomas Wilson and Jessica Benton Wilson are organizing this fundraiser.
Kenny Benton’s journey began in 2007. He began having episodes of Super-Ventricular Tachycardia (SVT), a faster than normal heart rate beginning above the heart’s two lower chambers. After numerous trips to the ER, he was diagnosed with “Viral Cardiomyopathy”. A viral infection had caused acute inflammation of his heart muscle. Nothing he had done had caused any of his problems. To treat, he had multiple ablations and had a pace maker/defibrillator implanted with hopes of improving his heart function or the very least keep it from worsening.
In January 2013, blood clots had developed in his lungs. He was hospitalized for over 2 weeks and at this point we learned the ejection fraction, squeeze strength, of his heart was 10%. He was in heart failure. The cardiologists in Knoxville performed more ablations and replaced his pacemaker/defibrillator with a “new and improved" version in hopes his ejection fraction would improve.
By the summer of 2013, there was no improvement in Kenny’s heart function and his Knoxville cardiologists had exhausted all of their resources. They could do no more for him and referred him to Vanderbilt Medical Center, in Nashville.
Kenny’s experience with Vanderbilt began in August of 2013. After testing, the doctor told him he needed an LVAD immediately (Left Ventricular Assistant Device). This electromechanical device is used for assisting cardiac circulation, either to partially or completely replace the function of a failing heart. The LVAD is also the “bridge to a heart transplant” and at this time they were a relatively new device, and only expected to have a lifespan of ~7 years. Kenny and Cindy wanted to come back home to Athens and pray and decide if he wanted the LVAD. The doctor’s response was, “You don’t understand. You won’t live without one.”
On September 11, 2013, the LVAD was surgically inserted and was successful. Kenny and Cindy spent 2 months living in Nashville recovering and learning to live a new life with the LVAD. The new way of life was a huge adjustment, but would work pretty well without any complications until the very end of 2017.
Fast forward to December 29, 2017, Kenny’s pacemaker/defibrillator shocked him 5 times, in 2 days. He was celebrating Christmas with his family, in the mountains of Georgia and had to be rushed by ambulance to Vanderbilt. He was having ventricular tachycardia, deadly heart rhythms that beat so fast, the heart basically just quivers. Medicine did not stop the deadly rhythms, so ablations on the bottom part of the heart were performed. After a week of hospitalization, he was released. Approximately, a week and a half later, he would be rushed by ambulance to Vanderbilt again, with a blood clot in his LVAD. The blood clot broke loose and caused a stroke. He would spend 2 more weeks in the hospital and doctors decided his only chance of living would be to have a heart transplant.
On Friday, March 2, Kenny and Cindy were given the news Kenny was listed as a 1A on the heart transplant list. The following Thursday, March 8, they would receive the call stating, “We have a heart”. Friday, March 9, Kenny underwent heart transplant surgery. A new journey had began……..