Menomonie (WQOW)- After surviving a near-fatal heart condition, a Menomonie man now dedicates his time and his business to help others just like him.
Brent LeMay was born with a heart defect that nearly took his life. Three heart attacks later, his heart was too weak to work on its own. “The doctor told me, he said you have two choices here, we can either send you home on IV drugs and you can hope to make it until Christmas, or you can get an LVAD,” LeMay said.
Brent picked surgery and got a Left Ventricular Assist Device, better know as an LVAD. “The pump is on the inside but you get what’s called a drive line that comes out your side,” said Lemay.
The LVAD weighs five pounds and it had to be on Brent 24/7, so it could pump blood through his body. It’s what kept him alive. “Your heart would be on its own and it’s already in a weakened state, you may make it, you may not,” LeMay said. “It’s life support.”
Since the equipment was his lifeline, it had to be protected. Before Brent got his heart transplant in 2014, he started making clothes that could hold and cover his LVAD. “You’re always worried about kids grabbing a cord or a dog jumping… the cords tend to get hung up on doorknobs or anything that’s sticking out, even the corner of a char. If that comes out, that would be the end.”
Because of his transplant, he no longer needs an LVAD. But his new heart was telling him to keep making clothes to help others with LVADS, and that’s how his business started.
LeMay’s two seamstresses make 50 to 75 shirts a week and he ships 20 to 40 products a day. “The fact that he wanted to change things and make it better for everyone else was great,” said Connie Odegard, a seamstress of 40 years. “We test them for strength and safety and everything before we ever consider having anyone else test them,” LeMay said.
With each order, the customer isn’t just getting a shirt, they’re also getting a support system. “Sometimes it gets really personal, often times it’s just about life with an LVAD,” said LeMay. “I wanted to do something where I actually made a difference.”
Those shirts can cost about $80 to $120. Click here for more information about them.
To learn more about becoming an organ donor, click here.