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National Donate Life Month: Tennessee surgeon turns to AdventHealth for lifesaving heart transplant

The Perrigans with Dr. Bellam

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Dr. Dale Perrigan knew something was very wrong.

“One evening I woke up with a lot of pain in my chest,” said the Tennessee gynecological surgeon. As he lay in bed, on vacation in southwest Florida, Perrigan had no idea that pain in his chest would nearly end his life and lead to a heart transplant. Emergency room doctors, evaluating him that night, knew Dr. Perrigan needed help they could not provide, and quickly.

The Perrigans with Dr. Bellam

“He was life flighted (to AdventHealth Orlando) in a very sick condition, with signs of cardiogenic shock,” said Dr. Naveen Bellam, a heart failure transplant cardiologist with the AdventHealth Transplant Institute.

“We felt at that time that it would be best to get him on the transplant list and get him to an elevated status,” said Dr. Linda Bogar, a cardiothoracic heart and lung surgeon, and lung transplant program surgical director with AdventHealth Transplant Institute. Dr. Perrigan would spend eight months at AdventHealth Orlando with a ventricular assist device (VAD) helping pump blood through his badly damaged heart. When a donor heart became available, his transplant took place Oct. 21, 2022.

“I was praying to God, for peace (and) for strength,” said Page Perrigan, his wife.

“We were very impressed with the hospital and with the people.” During his recovery Dr. Perrigan and his wife made another life altering decision to move their home base to Orlando to be closer to the world class care offered by AdventHealth Transplant Institute. “We lived here for two years.”

“One day I came in and he was dancing in the kitchen. I knew he was back, I just cried,” Page Perrigan said. Eighteen months after his transplant, the couple have now moved back to Tennessee.

Click here or the photo at the top of this page to learn more about Dr. Perrigan’s transplant journey.

Nearly 104,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving transplant in the U.S., according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Of those, almost 600 are being cared for by teams at the AdventHealth Transplant Institute, Orlando’s only solid-organ transplant program.

Florida residents can sign up to be an organ donor at

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