It is hard to believe that another year has gone by, but time waits on no man, and yes I am a year older, and survived another year with a transplanted heart for an overall total of 23 years.
As we approach July 20th it is almost impossible to believe that on this date in 1993, I underwent a transforming experience in life. It was 23 years ago that I received a heart transplant and given the opportunity to enjoy those 23 additional years of quality life.
When one reflects back the first thing that goes through your mind is how all of this happened. How did my family, as well as I, survive such an event?
First, reflecting back realizing how thankful I am to my wife, Lois, children Maureen and Jim, their spouses Tim and Sugar and my grandchildren, Ryan and his wife Bea and Payton. Plus all of our dear friends who we consider as family for seeing me through this major medical time in my life. Along with my wife and family there were untold numbers of friends, extended family and new friends we have made along the way that has given us so much encouragement and support, and still do today. I wish I could mention everyone by name; space does not permit that, but two groups in Houston are so very dear to us. First, the members and leadership of West University Baptist Church where Lois and I have attended whenever in Houston, they are indeed a true blessing in our lives. Second, dear hospital associated friends, Deidra, Renita and a kind and sweet lady, Bettye, all of these plus untold additional numbers of people have made our life bearable during this time through their friendship and love for us.
Second, God has blessed me through my years of employment with the opportunity to work for a major corporation that had wonderful health insurance that allowed for an event like this to come through.
Third, equally important as the above, was the kindness and generosity of a family to agree to donate a loved one’s organs at the time of his passing. You might imagine the trauma of losing a love one, then faced with a decision to donate his organs at a time when great sadness came into their lives. While I never had the chance to meet the first donor family, my thoughts and prayers are constantly with them, and I trust God has blessed them multiple times over for their kind act of the “Gift of Life”.
For those friends and family that may have forgotten or never heard the story of how I arrived at this point, I will bring you up to date with a brief background.
On February 22, 1992 I was struck with a major heart attack that destroyed my heart. No surgical procedure or treatments would fix this problem. The only chance I had at life was a heart transplant. After surviving from February until April of 1993, my heart simply could no longer work as it should, and I arrived at the Texas Heart Institute, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas where I waited 4 months in the hospital. 70 of those days hooked up to an experimental heart machine the “LEFT VINTRICULAR ASSIST DEVICE” or LVAD Unit as it is known.
On July 20, 1993 I did receive the “Gift of Life” a new heart and as stated above it was indeed a true gift of life. There are no words to adequately describe how God has blessed me, not only through this event of life, but prior to it and ever since. On that transplanted heart, I had 17 ½ years of quality life and indeed I was living on the grace and mercy of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
Second phase of God’s blessings
While undergoing routine annual post heart transplant test in Houston in August of 2009, a blood clot the size of a golf ball was found in the upper left chamber of my heart. Surgery was performed to remove the clot and the next day I was put on the transplant list for a second heart.
Lois and I moved to Houston, lived in an apartment for 15 months and a donor heart came in on November 25, 2010, and I underwent a 2nd heart transplant. Again the kindness, generosity and grace of a then unknown family made a supreme sacrifice and agreed to donate their loved one’s organs, and I was the recipient of that heart. I have communicated with that family, and our intentions are to get together and meet each other.
As rare as heart transplants are you may well imagine how blessed I have been to receive two transplanted hearts and still have a fine quality of life.
After an additional 3 months of recuperating in Houston, we returned to our home and have enjoyed another 5 ½ years of quality life.
As with all of us we don’t know what the future holds, but I am assured of the one who holds the future. I rejoice every day knowing God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ has sustained me through the good and bad times.
When reflecting back on all of these events I often ask myself, have I done all that I can do with this extra time that God has given me. Quite a challenging question that I find comfort in by serving the God I love first, through my local church, First Baptist Church, White Castle, then by giving back by serving my fellow man. I do this part by being active in my community with such activities as The Iberville Museum where I serve as Chairman of the Board, our local American Legion where I serve as its Chaplin and the Westside Honor Guard where I serve at military funerals for fellow veterans. I still take every opportunity to share the value of organ donation whenever I have the opportunity.
With great love and respect,