WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield dad Dan Weiniger waits each day for the call that his new heart is waiting for him. But the transplant hopeful he isn’t waiting idly. Recently Weinier, who owns Home Video Studio, produced three videos featuring himself, his family and dozens of friends from the local business community that he entered in “Thanks to the LVAD,” a national contest hosted by Mended Hearts with support from St. Jude Medical.
“Thanks to the LVAD” is designed to recognize and celebrate people who have received an LVAD (left ventricular assist device) to treat heart failure, provide an outlet for LVAD recipients to share their stories and to educate and inspire others who are living with advanced heart failure. Five winners throughout the country will be chosen for a news and social media campaign in their local area, and one of them will be featured in a national campaign.
Weiniger’s health issues began in February 2003 when, at 42 years old, he had a heart attack followed by quintuple bypass surgery. After three weeks in the hospital, Weiniger recovered and for the next 12 years he lived a normal life. Then, in February 2015, he suffered another heart attack , this time spending two months in the hospital. Doctors told Weiniger that the heart failure was so severe that they could not perform a bypass. Stents would not work, and there were no miracle drugs.
“It didn’t look good until an LVAD was presented to me,” said Weiniger. “LVADs were first invented to keep you alive while waiting for a transplant. Of course, they still are but have gotten so much better that some have chosen to live with an LVAD. And I think the longest someone has had an LVAD is nine years so far.”
Waiting on the transplant, Weineger takes it day-by-day as doctors from Newark Beth Israel Hospital could call at any time telling him that there is finally a donor heart ready for him. Meanwhile, he works full time at his home video studio, helps run the Westfield BNI (Business Networking International) group and speaks to other heart failure patients in the area.
“Throughout my 55 days in three hospitals and through my time now, my family, my large network of friends and Westfield networking associates have always been in my corner,” said Weiniger. “I look at my heart failure as not the end of the story, just another chapter. It’s an opportunity to help others and to inspire to help them to overcome obstacles.”
In 2015, community members raised more than $8,000 to buy him a whole-house generator so that he would have a guaranteed source of electricity for the LVAD , which needs to be recharged daily.
Others have stepped forward in more personal ways. When Kristy Ball, owner of L&B Printing in Scotch Plains, heard that Weiniger needed to stay near other people due to fear of bleeding from the blood thinners he takes, she invited him to move Home Video Studios into her space.
“There she gave me the only walled office space and never asked for anything in return,” Weiniger said.
She might not have asked for any money, Ball said she’s benefitted in another way.
“I feel very lucky to have met such an upbeat person He’s a true friend who gives such great advice,” said Ball.
“My BNI networking partners are more than business associates — they are caring, supportive friends who have stood by me and who I think of as my extended family," said Weiniger.
When it came time for Weineger to shoot his videos last month for “Thanks to the LVAD,” dozens of people from the group got involved.
“The video was shot on March 18th after a weekly BNI networking meeting at Echo Lake Country Club in Westfield,” Weineger said. “Close to 50 members agreed to help with the video by staying after the 90 minute meeting, delaying going to their offices and work to be in the video."
Weineger also credited the love and support of his wife Jan, and his daughter, Eliza, and his sister, Molly, for helping to make the production of his videos possible.
Watch them here:
In addition to frequently contributing to Tap into Westfield, Mike Cohen is the Founder/Director of Throwback Sports the Sports Editor for Education Update. He can be reached at email@example.com