Meet Local Heart Disease Survivor Doris Serota

Updated:Feb 12,2014

Doris Serota and her husband Harvey are familiar faces as volunteers at the American Heart Association office. For nearly 10 years, the Amherst couple has been passionate about helping the organization fulfill its mission.

Doris knows all-too-well the importance of the American Heart Association’s work. She suffered and survived a major heart attack in August of 2000. She was only 56 years old.

She is also the recipient of a donor heart after undergoing a transplant when the damage to her own heart had been too severe.

Harvey said she is a miracle. Her condition was grave and her survival rate was less than 10%. Her heart attack struck on a Monday and it was two days before she came into the emergency room. Her symptoms were largely nausea and exhaustion.

Because of the 48-hour time lapse, the left ventricle of her heart was severely damaged. At one point, she went into cardiac arrest and was revived. Doctors put Doris’s heart on a pump and kept her sedated in hopes of regaining some function. The left ventricle was pumping between 20-25% efficiency, a 75-80% loss. Doctors told the family that 50% loss of function was almost always fatal.

Doris was put on the transplant list. After some false alarms, two months after her August heart attack, a donor heart was available and the transplant was performed. She weathered her share of bumps on the grueling road to recovery but she made it home in time for the holidays that year.

More than 12 years later, Doris is thankful every day for her second chance. Needless to say, she hasn’t picked up a cigarette since – despite temptation. She is thankful for the work of the American Heart Association and their research that led to her own successful surgeries, stents and ultimately transplant.

She and her husband give freely of their time in hopes of preventing heart disease in Western New York. With 80% of heart disease preventable, they love to help the organization share the tools and resources to eat better, move more and live longer, stronger lives.