The sun is blazing on a summer afternoon in Delhi, but 63-year-old Ramprasad Garg is undeterred. Sitting under the shade of a large tree in the park, Garg shuffles a deck of cards in preparation for the next round of games with his friends. Someone makes a joke, and the group erupts in laughter.
Garg appreciates the simple things in life — parks, cards, friends. Technology is often the last thing he wants to think about — he doesn't even text — but even when he doesn't think about it, he's using it every day.
Garg's days haven't always been so calm. There was a time when the retired businessman needed a heart transplant — until an innovative piece of cardiovascular technology proved that heart transplant alternatives were available and allowed him to safely manage his heart failure.
Garg had a heart attack in 2009, and over the next few years, his heart steadily weakened. At first, he was short of breath, and he tired quickly. But by 2015, his condition had deteriorated so severely that he could no longer run his business. Eventually, he couldn't eat — he couldn't digest his meals properly, so his stomach would become bloated after eating. And he could barely breathe — even when while comfortably lying down in bed.
He visited several doctors in the Delhi area, but to no avail.
"I was initially told that there was no treatment for my condition," he said.
Garg needed a new heart, but suitable transplant hearts are hard to come by, and he was too old to undergo the procedure safely. His family was worried sick — and Garg was beginning to lose hope.
A New Hope
Eventually, Garg met a doctor, who assured him that there was, in fact, an alternative. He was told about something called a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) that could help patients manage heart failure. He explained that the device was suitable for long-term application for older people like Garg, who are usually advised against heart transplant surgery.
It seemed like a reasonable option. The small, battery-operated device is implanted in the chest near the left ventricle, enabling the heart to pump blood more efficiently and maintaining gentle blood handling to minimise complications.
A New Beginning
Garg's surgery was a milestone: He was the first person in India, and only the second person in Asia, to receive an LVAD. Three weeks later, he went home. He's since left his business to one of his eight children and retired to his new, relaxed life.
"I never had any big dreams or desires," he said. "My entire focus was on the upbringing of my children, and I wanted to ensure that they marry into good families. God fulfilled my wish."
Years ago, Garg traveled around the world before his waning health prevented such adventures. After taking back control of his heart health, he has completed several pilgrimages to holy shrines. But for the most part, his days are simple — spent in the park with his friends and his family at home.
"When my grandchildren are home during vacations, I enjoy playing carom with them," he said.
These days, Garg is more careful about his health and makes sure that he gets adequate exercise and rest. He wakes up at 5 a.m. every day to take a brisk walk, and he eats light meals throughout the day. He devotes as much time as he can to social and community work. He's less worried now about his health. Instead, he's focusing on enjoying the small pleasures in life.
"I just want my health to continue being all right," he said. "I pray to God that I don't have to visit the hospital again."
And while he's still happy to go without his cell phone much of the time and not get too wrapped up in technology that surronds him, Garg recognises that his life is little bit better because of it. Isn't that the hallmark of a great technology? You don't need to understand it, for it to change your life, it just does.
This is why, at Abbott, we're working towards creating such life-changing technology that can create more possibilities for everyone, everywhere and help people live fuller, healthier lives.
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