Two Boston heart patients bond over shared struggle

The Boston Herald published a beautiful story this week about how a friendship developed between two men over a shared struggle with heart disease.

The story focuses on Julius Johnson, 17, and Bouba Dieme, 32, who both have a ventricular assist device (VAD) called the HeartMate 3. This golf ball-sized mechanical pump is implanted into their hearts and helps to circulate blood through the body.

Both men were at the Boston Heart Walk on Saturday, Sept. 7, walking on Dieme’s team — Heart of a Giant. Besides participating in the Heart Walk, Dieme is an American Heart Association advocate, who has visited the State House to ask lawmakers to support life-saving legislation.

BOSTON MA. – SEPTEMBER 7: VADP recipient Bouba Dieme with Julius Johnson a young man who shares a VADP and who Bouba has helped at the Boston Heart walk at the Esplanade on September 7, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Jim Mahoney/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Johnson, of Waterford, Conn., was born with a heart defect that left him missing half of his heart. After having several surgeries as a child, he was diagnosed with progressive heart failure. Dieme, of Milton experienced bouts of dizziness, chest tightness and fatigue throughout his life and was showing signs of heart failure which led to the diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart disease.

“Julius found a guardian angel in Bouba and I think there is a bond between them that can’t be replicated in any way,” Dr. Christina VanderPluym, cardiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Johnson’s doctor, told the Herald.

Read the full story here.