SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento is only one of two heart transplant programs in Northern California. And CBS13 was there Tuesday as they discharged their 155th patient.

They say no man is a good doctor who has never been sick himself. For one local doctor, that proved to be true after receiving his own transplant.

Research doctor Stephan Lakos suffered heart failure after years of disease, and faced certain death. But doctors implanted a life saving device that kept him alive for nine months until he hear then news he was getting a new heart.

“This is what we call an LVAC, a machine we implant in the body to assist pumping of the heart,” said Sutter Dr. Robert Kincade

The new heart was successfully implanted days ago. A week later, the 69-year-old is out the door.

“This guy was sicker than the typical patient, but he’s doing so good,” said Sutter Dr. John Chin. “His recovery time and everything else is so much quicker.”

The Hungarian-born doctor who was granted political asylum in the back in the 1980’s is getting yet another chance at a better life — this time from his own kind.

“Oh, I feel great,” said Dr. Lakos. “They are the best doctors in the world,” he said, referring to the doctors who performed the operation.

When he was first diagnosed, Dr. Lakos was told he had just six months to live. Now, with his new heart, he’s looking forward to another two decades, leaving his best friend, Lad Wentzel, both emotional and ready to hold him to an old promise.

“Let me tell you, we have a deal we made two years ago. You’re taking me to Budapest because I want to see all these things you talk about,” said Wentzel.

With promises to fulfill and projects to complete, the doctor who became the patient also hopes to one day become a donor.

By having these life-saving programs available at Sutter Memorial, patients from the Sacramento Valley can continue to receive their surgery and lifetime care, close to home.


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