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Christi-Recipient Family


My father, Jerry, has battled heart disease since he was 35 years old. He had a heart attack and bypass surgery at 35. Several heart attacks and many many stents followed over the years. We learned when he was 40 yrs old that he had irreversible damage (cardiomyopathy) and would eventually require a heart transplant in order for him to live.


He had many ups and downs and had an ICD implanted as well that saved his life numerous time throughout the years. He remained stable and did well for a long time, until February 2016 when he began having a lot more arrhythmias (Ventricular tachycardia). He had been seeing a transplant team for a year or so in preparation for what we knew would eventually come. We finally were able to get him into his transplant doctor on March 14th. He , my mom and I all knew things were going to be different at this appointment because of his recent arrhythmia issues. We knew what we had been anticipating for over 20 years was near.


We took my father to his appointment with the transplant doctor on March 14 2016 and that is where the journey began, They decided they needed to admit him to the hospital and begin the full workup for heart transplant. He was in this facility for 59 days and during that time was shocked over 20 times for his recurrent arrhythmias, many he was awake for because there was no time to sedate him. He was a trooper though, always smiling and upbeat. He even had a possible donor here ,however they decided it wasnt good enough quality to use. His health began to decline at this facility and God led us to transfer him to another facility. So, on day 59 we had him flown to another hospital where he began to improve within 24 hours (heart failure symptoms).
11 days afer arriving at this facility he had a donor heart available. He had been in the OR for a couple of hours when we received a call from the OR telling us they were unable to use the donor heart due to a medical condition found In the donor. Surgery had already begun for dad, but thankfully they discovered the issue before dad received the heart, so they closed him back up and we waited for him to wake up so we could tell him the news. But still , he was a trooper, still upbeat and smiling. He just kept reiterating the fact that it was in Gods hands.


Nine days later he coded, thankfully with CPR they were able to resuscitate him , but we knew we were running out of time. Finally three days after he coded he received his new heart! That was a long and life changing 95 days. He is now 8 months out and is doing great!
As a nurse , I knew organ donation was important , however I never truly understood the full impact until my experience with my dad. I am now an avid organ donation advocate. I am currently also working on becoming a volunteer and a Donate Life Ambassador so I can continue to educate others on the importance and impact of organ donation.