When I first found out that I needed a heart transplant, I didn’t believe it. I was in denial since I was in such good shape all of my life. I hardly even got a cold. I couldn’t believe that my heart was giving out.
Ten years ago after years of being an avid runner, I was growing more and more tired. I went to my general doctor who did an EKG, and he found something abnormal. It was determined that the right electrical node in my heart was not firing correctly, so I had a pacemaker put in. I continued running for the next two years. Then the same problem occurred on the left side of my heart and another pacemaker was put in.
After four years and two pacemakers, my heart started to completely deteriorate. I had an interview with Dr. Erika Feller who determined that I was a transplant candidate. I was added to the transplant waiting list and admitted to UMMC. Throughout the week they had to run tests on me. While at the hospital, I went into cardiac arrest, and I was upgraded to a pump. A couple days later a match was found. I felt great and relieved; it was only five days between the cardiac arrest and the time I got my new heart.
I didn’t wake up initially after the transplant. The toxins in my blood were at such a high level that they brought me into exploratory surgery where they discovered that I also needed my gall bladder removed.
Recovery was pretty good for me. The doctors and staff at UMMC were great. They took good care of me and got me up and walking soon after the surgeries. Two weeks after the transplant I returned home and continued walking around my community. In less than three months after my transplant, I was able to return to work.
It has been six years since my transplant, and I’m able to run again. Every weekend I go walking with the guys in the neighborhood, about 4 to 5 miles. I am also very passionate about sailing. I sail a fair amount and send Dr. Feller a picture of me on my boat every April, which is the anniversary of my transplant.
I would highly recommend that people indicate they want to be organ donors on their driver’s license. Organs are greatly needed, and you may save someone’s life. You never know when tragedy may strike or when your health may deteriorate. But even with a sad tragedy, some good can come out of it. If it had not been for the generosity and foresight of my donor, I probably would not be here.