Catherine Lipps

When she finally has the new heart she’s been awaiting for three years, Catherine Lipps can’t wait to enjoy the water and get back to work. “I love the water, but I can’t get wet,” said Catherine, 35, of Beloit, Wis. She can’t swim because of the port in her chest where she receives vital round-the-clock infusion of inotropic medication. The medication helps her failing heart work more effectively while she waits for a new heart.

But she’s thankful she is able to receive the medication at home. This allows her to do errands, play board games or sit around a bonfire with friends and walk her dog, Mystee, at the nearby dog park. A Rottweiler/shepherd/husky mix, Mystee is the “the best $90 I ever spent,” said Catherine.

She’s looking forward to flying to her cousin’s wedding this month in Charleston, S.C., where she’ll visit with family friends she hasn’t seen in 10 years. Her medication resides in a fanny pack, but she’s anxiously awaiting a new bag being made by a friend. “It’ll look more fashionable, like a purse I can throw over my shoulder, she said.

Catherine began having swelling and shortness of breath at age 28 and ultimately learned she had two defective heart valves. She’s had numerous surgeries, including valve replacement twice, but ran out of options and was placed on the heart transplant list three years ago.

The heart condition forced her to leave her warehouse job and go on disability and Medicare. She finds herself fortunate to be receiving her infusion therapy at home. A new law called the 21st Century Cures Act has created a gap in coverage that means some Medicare patients, like Catherine, won’t be able to get their inotropic infusion at home. Instead, they may have to stay in the hospital or a nursing home to receive it, keeping them from living a fuller life. Catherine can’t imagine that. “I was in the hospital for two months with a heart valve infection and I about went crazy,” she said.

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She’s currently ranked 2B on the transplant list. Those in highest need of a heart are ranked 1A. While she would like to get a new heart, she knows others are in greater need, and she’s happy to wait her turn, thankful for the home inotropic infusion that lets her continue to enjoy a relatively normal life.

“I have more good days than bad days and before the infusion it was the opposite,” said Catherine. “It allows me be at home rather than the hospital and I can grocery shop, vacuum and do every day things most people take for granted. I’m a big ‘Walking Dead’ fan, but there’s only so many TV and Netflix series to watch.”

“I have more good days than bad days and before the infusion it was the opposite.”