Heart Transplant X2 & Stroke Survivor
I had my first heart transplant at 9 years old, I got diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in June of 1990 and had my transplant in October 1990 - was never sick as a kid, played sports, normal life and then all within 4 months I went from healthy to if I wouldn’t have been fortunate to get my transplant on the day I did, I wouldn’t have survived that next day. Was only on the list for 9 hours as well, and I’ll never take for granted how blessed I am because of that. That first year I was in and out of the hospital ton, but soon after stabilized. In 1994, out of the blue again, I developed severe rejection, almost didn’t make it - but after 3 months in the hospital and successful plasmapheresis therapy I was back in school and back to “normal” and that original transplanted heart lasted me 20 great, amazing years.
In 2011, I was in need of a second transplant, the damage from the 1994 rejection finally caught up to me, the funny thing I was A-Symptomatic, so I didn’t feel any different other than I knew from my follow ups I needed a new heart. Survived a heart attack, multiple stent procedures every 6 months for 4-5 years.
So again, very fortunate in January of 2011, I received my second heart transplant and another amazing gift and chance at life. I had some complications afterwards, aspirated and had a stroke. Had to learn how to walk and relearn most gross motor skills. Four months of physical therapy however I was able to get back to work.
Sure there are ups and downs, taking a handful of meds every day probably isn’t the best on the body, but I’ve had zero rejection or issues with this second heart. Even with my first transplant, I lived my life without real limitations - I grew up like a normal kid, I went to school, I traveled and did things with my friends. When I started and progressed in my career, I’ve traveled the world, and I’m married now with a family. It hasn’t always been easy, there have been hard choices to make when I was a young teen, and also as a young adult - however to me the days I don’t feel well, don’t compare to the days I feel blessed to have a chance to feel at all.
The first year or so can be scary, there are milestone dates everyone looks for; well if I make it 5 years my chance of survival goes up X %, some of that is true, but I’ve always believed it’s how you approach every day that counts. I’ve had the lowest of lows; heart attack, stroke, doctors saying I wouldn’t make it - yet here I sit, 27+ years in with two transplants and if I didn’t tell you I was a heart recipient you’d probably never know. I do talk about it though, as organ donation is important and the more people can see survivors living their best life, that continues to help the cause and the donor families.
I feel very blessed to be here today, fully understanding that someone had to pass away for me to have the chance I have; and to those donors and families I am forever grateful.