In 1992, I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at my yearly physical. It was a very severe case, and I was told I was not going to survive a long time without a heart transplant. After the first couple of days of feeling sorry for myself, I woke up and decided I was going to fight the problem with the help of many good doctors and the heart clinic at University Hospital. In 2005, my weak heart could not do anymore. A pace maker was tried, but it could not help my heart, and I continued to fail. After much testing it was determined that my other organs were fine, but I needed a new heart. After years of struggling with a deteriorating heart, I was put on the transplant list. After 8 weeks a heart became available, and I received a transplant on June 23, 2006. After my transplant, things went so well that I was eating lunch 12 hours after surgery and have gotten better every day since.
During the first 6 months of 2006 I kept hearing in the back of my mind, “You are going to make it.” Then after the transplant I kept hearing, “I’ve got a job for you to do.” Now I spend my time volunteering and giving back as much as I can.
As wonderful as this has been for me, it is only the beginning. In February 2007, a meeting over the phone was arranged by LifeCenter with my donor’s father. He wanted to meet me, and I wanted to meet him. His son Kyle had died in an industrial accident, but he had already registered to be an organ donor to help others. He donated organs to 8 people, and I was the lucky one to receive his wonderful heart. Kyle’s father and I have teamed up to support heart research, organ donation, and much more. Our 1st project the American Heart Association’s heart mini marathon in March, 2007 raised $14,000 for heart research. Our team “Kyle’s Heart” plans to go all over the country to help many causes. We are a team.
As I tell people in the same situation I am in, never give up. The journey is long but the possibilities of something wonderful happening are there. You must have patience and do everything you can to be ready.
You or someone in your family can save many lives and make something positive out of tragedy. This is the most wonderful gift you can give to anyone. The gift of life is wonderful. I now feel I must honor the memory of my donor and continue the giving that was started by him.