Article by Lauren Barker
(first published on Central Adelaide Local Health Network)
Lyall Pearce was feeling fit and healthy, having just celebrated his 50th birthday.
“My grandmother lived to 101, so I was thinking I had about another 50 years left,” the husband and father of two from Hillcrest said.
But when the ride to work he did every day suddenly became a struggle, he felt something was wrong.
“I used to ride my bike every day to work about 9-10km, rain or shine. I found it started to get more and more difficult to get up a hill along the way.”
After seeing his GP and being referred to a thyroid specialist, he was finally diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma with secondary cardiac amyloidosis (due to the toxic protein produced by the myeloma cells), and given an 18 month prognosis.
That was in 2015.
Although Lyall had numerous hospital admissions and side-effects, he initially responded well to chemotherapy under the care of by haematologist Dr Noemi Horvath.
But the impact of the chemotherapy treatment and the infiltration from the amyloidosis in his heart had severely impaired his heart’s function.
Doctors installed a pacemaker and he began heart medications, but by mid 2020 his situation was dire and had developed resistant heart failure despite numerous medical interventions.
Lyall was essentially bed-bound and unable to move without becoming breathless and his other body organs had started to be compromised due to his extremely poor heart function.
During an admission to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in June 2020, Lyall was flown urgently to St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney where he waited for a heart transplant.
As his clinical status deteriorated, to bridge him during this wait, the team at St Vincent’s Hospital installed a specialised mechanical cardiac device called an Impella Device.