Heart failure patient donates to hospital that gave him 'hope'

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Rising above Peachtree Road, the 16-story Piedmont Atlanta Tower will be home to the new Piedmont Heart Institute.

And a big part of this dream to build a world-class heart center in Atlanta is Brett Samsky, who has been battling some of the most complicated heart problems doctors here will ever see.

"There were times where I literally couldn't breathe. I couldn't walk, I couldn't move," Samsky says.

The pain began in Samsky's early 40s. 

He and his wife Louise had a 6-year old son, Conner, at the time.

They traveled to five different heart centers around the US, looking for help.

"I was going from hospital to hospital to hospital to hospital," Samsky says.  "Nobody could tell me what was wrong."

Some of the doctors felt Samsky was stressed, maybe having panic attacks.

"And they would find things and do different procedures, but he never really got better," Louise Samsky says.

By the time the Samskys came to see Dr. Vivek Rajagopal, the Co-Medical Director of the Marcus Heart Valve Center at Piedmont,

Rajagopal says he could see Samsky was suffering.

"He'd seen many, many doctors, and had been all around the country to different institutions," Rajagopal says. "And unfortunately some had written him off, and said, 'This is in your head." Or, that it was not related to his heart."

But Dr. Rajagopal's team took on Samsky's case.

"We kind of sat down and said, 'You know what, something else is going on here, we need to figure this out," he says.

Samsky has endured 15 heart procedures, including open heart surgery. 

He has a disorder that affects the smallest blood vessels of his heart and several complex heart issues.

But at Piedmont, for the first time, Samsky says, he and Louise found hope.

"I think the biggest thing was Dr. Rajagopal," Louise Samsky says. "He was so personal, and really spent time and listened to Brett and myself, and really researched what was happening with him, and didn't give up on him."

That's why the Samskys want to be a part of Piedmont's future.

They're donating $11 million to build the Samsky Invasive Cardiovascular Services Center, which will fill the entire second floor of the tower.

"It's been a scary journey for me, and I know it's scary for others," Brett Samsky says.  "I want to make a place where it's comfortable for others."

Samsky, the CEO of the Atlanta financial firm Credigy is now in advanced heart failure.

Last year, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and suffered complications from a surgery to remove part of his lung.

He spends his free time answers e-mails trying to help strangers with heart disease find the help they need.

"I look at it sometimes and think, why am I here," Samsky says.  "There have been 5 or 6 times when I've been close to death.  So, why am I here?  I think it's to do greater things."

The Samskys have already donated $6 million to build a heart failure center at Piedmont.

This new, expanded Piedmont Heart Institute, the Samskys hope, will help hundreds of thousands of heart patients find the hope they found here.