Giving Hope, Healing a Heart


H.E. Smith’s cardiologist told him to go home and get his affairs in order. “I went to a funeral home and made all of my arrangements,” said Smith, 72. That was nine years ago.

Smith, an entrepreneur who lives in Florida and Indiana, suffers from congestive heart failure. He had his first heart attack at age 38. Ten years later, a major heart attack followed and he lost a third of his heart. A decade after that, a quadruple bypass, and in 2005, serious complications arose. “I was pretty sick. I could barely move. I was all be gone.”

He called Amit Patel, MD, cardiac surgeon and director of Clinical Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering at the University of Utah Health. Dr. Patel invited Smith to be a part of a clinical trial using autologous stem cell therapy to treat heart problems. Smith agreed. 

Dr. Patel harvested Smith’s stem cells, rejuvenated them, and placed them back in his body. The treatment was a complete success. “The next morning, I felt like a whole new man. Instantly, I jumped back to life. I was up walking around the hospital. It was unbelievable. It was a miracle.” He was released from the hospital that day, and went to a Mexican restaurant with his daughter. 

Three years later, Smith was gravely ill again. He travelled west for one last trip. “When I got in the altitude, I got really sick. I could’t breath at all.” Dr. Patel met him at the clinic and confirmed that his condition was serious. “He told me, ‘The good news is, I think I can fix you.’” 

Dr. Patel again treated Smith with stem cell transplantion. The results were astounding. “I had already accepted the fact that I was going to die. You would never know I’ve been sick a day in my life. Nobody has ever come that far back.” 

Smith is currently undergoing another clinical trial to try and heal his heart. He credits Dr. Patel and his staff with saving his life. “He’s given me nine more years I wouldn’t have had. I got to see a granddaughter and a great grandson born. Those are things that I wouldn’t have been able to see. It’s been a good ride.”

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