Updated August 4, 2021
Ed Price still remembers the volunteers who came to visit him after his heart surgery in 2013.
Doylestown Health's Heart-to-Heart volunteers came to see Ed after his triple bypass. They talked to him about their own heart surgery experiences, reassuring him he could get through the process of healing and returning to living. About a year later, inspired by the impact made by those visitors, Ed started volunteering with the Heart-to-Heart program.
"I'm here to tell you there is life after open-heart surgery," said Ed, 73. "It does get better."
The goal of Doylestown Health's Heart-to-Heart volunteer program is to provide a positive transition to healing and wellness for heart patients and their family members through reassurance, compassion and inspiration. Heart-to-Heart volunteers have all had some past involvement with a cardiac event, and most are former heart patients. Their mission is to help others like themselves.
They offer individual, non-medical support based on their personal experiences with cardiac diagnoses and past events. Many volunteers say that they feel this is an opportunity to give others the support they were given, and to express their gratitude.
"It's a very rewarding experience because you're helping other people," said Ed.
The retired estate planner and financial consultant was looking for some type of volunteer work when he learned about the Heart-to-Heart program. "I knew it was really personal and that I could help people get through the process," he said. "It clicked – that's what I wanted to do."
Following his training, Ed started visiting patients who have undergone heart surgery. Taking cues from the patients, Ed will share his own experiences and answer questions that patients or family members may have. He'll talk about the importance of cardiac rehab and will introduce the subject of living a healthy lifestyle – something Ed has done himself. He started walking, lost 40 pounds and started eating healthier. But he doesn't preach. He just uses himself as an example of what is possible after surgery.
"It's not a lecture. I'll never try to force a conversation. It's just one person who's had the same experience," he said. "Even just seeing the volunteer walking and talking and doing things is a good thing. The patients see that it's not the end – it's really the start of a new life."
Recovering from heart surgery has its challenges, and the emotional aspect of healing is important. "It does give you a different perspective on life," said Ed. "You can't help but think about life after surgery." He appreciates his role in helping patients through the process and "making it a little easier for them."
The Heart-to-Heart volunteers are a close-knit group and "there are some amazing people in that group," Ed said.
Ed encourages individuals who have had heart surgery experience to consider volunteering.
"Give it a shot. You don't know until you do it. I look forward to coming in to volunteer every time. It's worthwhile. It's a great place to work. It isn't work – it's a pleasure."
For more information on becoming a Heart-to-Heart volunteer, contact the Volunteer Services office at 215.345.2204.
About Doylestown Health's Heart & Vascular Services
Expert cardiologists and cardiac surgeons assist patients and physicians with managing risk factors for heart disease, offer advanced treatment options and provide outstanding emergency cardiac care. Doylestown Hospital’s accredited Chest Pain Center is fully prepared to treat cardiac emergencies around the clock, focusing on rapid diagnosis and effective treatment. The multidisciplinary team at the Woodall Center for Heart and Vascular Care is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality care and patient safety.