DES PLAINES - A suburban Chicago man is changing the face of heart failure and the conversation on how it is treated.
When you see Dantrell Brown playing with his son at a Des Plaines park, you might not guess he is also a heart patient fighting a battle.
"This felt like a battle. God gave his battles to his strongest soldiers… therefore I just felt like I was one of the strong ones and just to help other people be strong," Brown said.
Brown has become a TikTok influencer called "L-VAD Dad," where he shares details of his heart pump called the LVAD that helps his weak heart pump blood.
In 2019, Brown was playing basketball in Des Plaines when he knew something was wrong. He was then diagnosed with congestive heart failure at the age of 22.
"Heart failure can happen to almost anyone, and there are therapies that we have that really can transform someone's life," said Cardiovascular Surgeon Dr. Tony Tatooles from Advocate Health.
Dr. Tatooles put in the heartmate 3 LVAD for Brown in late 2019, right after Brown watched Iron Man.
"I was like, I'm going to be Iron Man. I said let's do it, let's do it," Brown said.
Local company Abbott makes the heart pump and the team behind it took notice of Brown's new TikTok attention.
"It helps patients like him. It helps patients with chronic heart failure understand that there are options. When somebody says, well, you can't have a heart transplant. That doesn't mean we're done," said Dr. Robert Kormos, Abbott's Divisional Vice President of Global Medical Affairs.
Brown hopes to get a transplant one day and he will keep sharing his journey with a whole lot of heart.