Faces of Transplant: Claire Tunick


Claire Tunick mother of transplant patient, Dana Tunick

What is your connection to transplant? 

Our daughter, Dana, was born with a congenital heart defect in 1976.  After many surgeries, she had a heart transplant in 2000 at age 23.  She did well for a while and in 2010 required a kidney transplant, donated by her sister, Jackie.

Why did you choose to have your care at Columbia?

Dana’s care began in 1976 at Columbia when she was initially diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at five months of age.   Our pediatrician referred us to Dr. Sylvia Griffiths in pediatric cardiology.  When Dana was 12, we switched her care to Dr. Fred Bierman who ultimately left Columbia to become chief of pediatric cardiology at Schneider Children’s Hospital at Long Island Jewish Hospital.  For the next few years, she received her care there until a catheterization revealed that she was in left ventricular failure.  She was placed on the transplant list and was transported by ambulance back to Columbia.  Her care, ever since 2000, was, first, with the transplant team at Babies Hospital and then, was transferred to the adult transplant unit. 


How many years are you post-transplant?   

Dana’s heart transplant was in 2000 and her kidney transplant was in 2010.  She passed away in May of 2017.


What is your quality of life like now? 

Before her death, Dana’s quality of life varied year by year.  She did well for a period of time, and then, would require an intervention of one sort or another.  Most of the time, she would require medicine adjustments but other times, she would require the implantation of a pace maker or other minor procedures.


Tell us about your relationship with your transplant team. 

Dana was treated first at Babies Hospital and then transferred to the adult transplant department.  Her relationship, first with Dr. Mario Deng, and then, Dr. Farhana Latif was warm and supportive.  She relied on them and had total trust in them.  She also had a wonderful relationship with the Nurse Practitioner, Sue Cech.  


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Want to share your story with us? Email transplantforum@columbia.edu to get started!