...at the age of 64 years old. Mike battled heart disease since 1996, when he went in for his first heart surgery at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Throughout the years, he had many visits to the hospital, resulting in multiple surgeries, heart attacks, strokes, etc. It wasn’t until September 2014 that he was diagnosed with Heart Failure.
Mike was unable to stay home for more than a week...sometimes mere days. Calling for an ambulance was becoming the “norm” for the Gustins. Heart Failure was now beginning to diminish Mike’s quality of life and he needed to be hospitalized 24/7. Mike could no longer do what he loved tmost. He needed to stay for over two months on the most critically intensive floor--the Cardiomyopathy Center--at Tufts Medical Center. It wasn’t until then that Mike and his family were told he needed a new heart and there would be a lot of steps and challenges before he could be a recipient. During those difficult months, Mike’s family drove to the hospital daily and prayed...hoping for a miracle. Repeatedly they hoped the doctors could fix the problem, as they always did, and their beloved Mike would come home.
It was February 2015 that they were told the devastating news. Mike would not be a candidate for the LVAD and receiving a new heart was no longer a possibility. As devastated as Mike and his family were, they all decided to make Mike’s last wish a reality by bringing him home to be cared for by his family, Dr. Amanda Vest from Tufts MC, and South Shore visiting nurse, Jay Bates. Remarkably, against all odds, Mike stayed home without hospital visitations for almost 5 1/2 months before he passed.
During those difficult months, back-and-forth from the hospital, Mike’s daughter Laurie was blessed to meet Pat Sullivan. Pat, a heart transplant survivor and one of the founders of the HeartBrothers Foundation, met Laurie waiting for her car at the parking garage of Tufts MC. Pat immediately reached out, seeing the distressed look on her face. From that day forward, he was there to offer support for the family. Although Mike did not meet Pat, he knew of him and his eagerness to help in any way he could...whether emotional, physical, or financial.
When Mike passed, the Gustin family immediately knew where they needed to focus their energy. They could understand what these patients face on a day-to-day basis and what families are up against. When people think of Mike, they think of how generous and kind he was to everyone he met. One of Mike’s accomplishments was launching a celebrity golf tournament. This tournament still exists today, after 30 years, raising over $1.6 million dollars. Mike’s love for golf, and his acts of generosity and kindness over the years, led the Gustin family and the HeartBrothers to start the Annual Mike Gustin Golf Classic (in 2016) in memory of Mike.