Middle School Assistant Principal Receives New Heart
In 2006, Erika Carter-Rolle had a bad cold that wouldn’t go away. A few months later, she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy– a condition in which the heart muscle becomes enlarged and weaker, and often leads to heart failure.
The diagnosis was devastating for Erika, an assistant principal at M.A. Milam K-8 Center in Hialeah, Florida.
Though she continued to work, her condition worsened. She suffered a stroke, consecutively had transient ischemic attacks, more commonly known as “mini strokes,” and had a pacemaker implanted to resynchronize her heart rhythms.
In 2011, Erika retained fluid around her heart and in her right lung. She was then diagnosed with congestive heart failure. While walking around her school campus in early 2015, Erika became fatigued. It was then that she realized more advanced care was needed. Soon after, her doctors told her she needed a heart transplant.
She faced this new challenge with her usual determination and positive attitude.
“I’m a warrior,” Erika told herself. “I’m going to make it through this.”
To assist her while she waited for a donor heart, UHealth/Jackson cardiologist Dr. Sandra Chaparro, recommended that Erika have a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted, which would help the heart pump oxygen.
In October 2015, Erika received the call that she hoped would come. A donor heart was available.
In a four-hour surgery, UHealth/Jackson transplant surgeons Drs. Matthias Loebe and Nicolas Brozzi gave Erika a new heart. She calls that day her “second birthday.”
“Before the surgery, I constantly reflected on how I was living before,” she said. “It was like the Lord sat me down and said ‘you’re going to take a break and look at life.’ This is my second chance.”
Jan. 1955 Medical Firsts
New Treatment for Cleft Lip Is Designed. Link opens story page.
In 1955, UM/Jackson reconstructive surgeon Dr. D. Ralph Millard, Jr. designed rotation-advancement flap surgery to treat cleft lip.Explore in story page.
Dec. 1980 Jackson History
Jackson Fights the AIDS Epidemic. Link opens story page.
Physicians from all over the world wanted to learn about the research and HIV/AIDS educational programs that allowed Jackson to be at the forefront in the fight against AIDS .Explore in story page.
Feb. 2018 Employee Stories
Work Is Where the Heart Is. Link opens story page.
Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to do something special with my life– make people feel good about themselves, educate others, be outdoors, play sports, and have fun.Explore in story page.