Search Menu Globe Arrow Right Close
Cedars-Sinai Blog

Transplant Saves Bishop at the Heart of His Community

"The skill of the surgeon, the discoveries that make operating rooms, anesthesia, and heart transplants possible—these are gracious and miraculous gifts."

On September 5, 2014, after months of waiting, William, then 78, and his wife, Betty Gay Dillard, got the call: "We have a heart for the bishop," said Dr. Jon Kobashigawa, chair of Heart Transplantation Medicine at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. The heart came from a 35-year-old father of four.

"The size of his heart fit right into mine," William says. "It has been a monumental moment in my thinking, reflecting on his transition and my reception of that heart, which came just in time."

The only cure

"Some heart transplant programs would have considered William too old to undergo a transplant at 78."

He was admitted to a local hospital, and a cardiologist referred him to the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, where William met Dr. Kobashigawa. Along with William's previous diagnosis of an enlarged heart, Dr. Kobashigawa found he also had cardiac amyloidosis, a rare condition in which an abnormal protein builds up in the heart.

The only cure was a heart transplant.

Some heart transplant programs would have considered William too old to undergo a transplant at 78.

But researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute have studied transplants in older patients and found that select patients age 70 and older can undergo transplantation with similar outcomes to younger recipients.

"Today, you'd never know he'd had a heart transplant," Dr. Kobashigawa says. "Every patient here gets a fair and objective evaluation, and we really weigh each case very carefully. We're happy we could help him."

What matters

Bishop William LaRue Dillard at the pulpit of the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles where he's served the congregation since 1974.