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John- Heart Recipient

John-Heart Recipient

John has always been a hard worker.  He spent 12 years in the military and 31 years as a prison guard at the state prison.  Around the house, he has been labeled a “busy body” as he does not like to sit still for too long.  Ultimately, it is this active lifestyle that saved his life.

At the early age of 45 he started having little heart problems.  He didn’t know it as it was happening, but he was having mini heart attacks for years before they started to cause any damage.  In 2014 he woke up and was unable to breathe.  It was like was trying to breathe underwater.  When he was rushed to the hospital, his youngest daughter, Stephanie,  was the first to arrive.  He strongly encouraged the doctors to get her out of there, as he didn’t want her to see her father die.

Several tests later, they found out he had congestive heart failure, meaning his lungs were filling up with water.  He was sent home, only to arrive back at the hospital 3 weeks later with his lungs filled up again. It was at this time that John went into a 14 day coma.  While he was being rushed to UK, John flatlined twice.  He remembers the defibrillator going off, but can’t imagine how he knows that, as he was already unconscious.

During those 14 days, his condition was so dire his wife was approached by the doctors and given the option to sign a living will and the do not resuscitate paperwork.  She refused this option, because she knew that God had a bigger plan.  When John awoke after 14 days, the doctors were astounded, saying things like “there are bigger things at work here, there is no way we should be talking to you right now, we did not do this, you are a miracle”.

The surgeons agreed to put an L-Vad in after John had grappled with the decision.  “My wife and I were ready to put it in God’s hands.  We had accepted that whatever was meant to happen, would happen.  It was at this time, that I received a call from my friend, David.  He had an L-vad and told me that he has been able to do all kinds of things with it.  It was this call that encouraged me to go through with the procedure”, explains John.

The L-vad was not John’s favorite thing.  For one thing, he couldn’t go swimming with it, which was his favorite thing to do.  It had to be strapped to his body at all times, was uncomfortable, and increased his shower time significantly.  However, with all of these irritants, the L-vad kept John’s heart pumping for an extra year, until he got the call that he was going to receive his heart.

His daughters and wife were a nervous wreck on March 30th 2015.  The trip from Carroll County to UK transplant hospital was a tense one, but once again they left it in God’s hands.

He awoke from his surgery feeling groggy, but better.  The doctor informed him that his donor was almost a perfect match and that they didn’t have to use the defibrillator to get his new heart pumping.  All the doctor had to do was give it a little tap, and it took off beating!

A few days later, in the hospital, he was watching the final 4 game and the Nursing staff had to tell him to calm down because he was getting too rowdy.  He was recovering faster than anyone had ever seen!  Had he not stayed active his whole life, he might not be here today.

Today, John is swimming freely, visiting his children in other states, and traveling the world.  He is thankful that his wife never left his side while he was in the hospital and that his loving daughters call him every day to check up on him.  “I always had faith and believed in God, but my experiences with my heart have taught me to put him first, and that is exactly what I have done.”


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John with Carroll County Heart recipients, Carroll County Circuit Clerk, Laman Stark and Deputy Clerk, Angela.