U.C. man to visit ‘Doctors’

April 24, 2018 GMT

Brian Hayden’s lifelong smoking habit left him weak, breathless and on the doorsteps of death. A heart attack and eventual heart transplant have been the result, and the Universal City resident is quick to tell others to avoid the nasty habit he experienced for so long.

Hayden has become a spokesman for the Center for Disease Control’s “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign, and will appear on the nationally syndicated “The Doctors” television show on Monday, April 30. The show airs locally on KABB at 2:30 p.m. weekdays.

Hayden and his wife, Denise, were in Hollywood for three days in February for the show’s taping. Hayden worked through the CDC to appear on the show. He is one of about 20 spokespeople for the agency through the TFFS campaign.

“Hopefully, when they see how it affects real people, not actors, then maybe it will encourage them to stop smoking as well,” Hayden said. “We also want to let them know that the CDC has help for them.”

Hayden, 64, a Universal City resident for the past five years, said he started smoking in the late 1950s. “I picked it up early; I had an older brother who smoked. Back then everybody smoked,” he said.

His condition deteriorated over the years. He suffered his massive heart attack in 1989 while stationed in the U.S. Air Force overseas. “When they retired me in 1990, they told me I had three-to-five years to live if I don’t get a heart transplant.”

He said his condition continued through the years until 2005, when he said he became too sick to work. “I couldn’t walk a block, the heart failure had gotten so bad,” he added.

Hayden finally cleared a number of hurdles and officially made the transplant list in February 2012, receiving his new heart on July 9, 2012.

Hayden doesn’t mind his “poster child” status for the CDC, having appeared in three previous television commercials.

“I smoked for over 40 years and if I can quit, after all I have been through, then you can, too, and the CDD is here to help you,” is the brunt of his message, he said.

The CDC has established a 1-800-QUITNOW phone line to help people who want to quit smoking but don’t know how, or for advice on ways to quit.