Update from 2019
Yet another year has gone by and now as I celebrate 26 years of living with transplanted hearts. How does one begin to understand, share and reflect upon the many blessings that have been extended to me during those years?
A good starting place would be to give thanks to God who makes all things possible through His Son our Lord Jesus Christ for His grace in sustaining me and my family through all these years. One can never forget the donor families, whose courage and kindness, during a terrible time of loss made a decision to donate their loves one’s organ so that I and many others might have a second chance at life.
To those families my simple words cannot fully express my appreciation and gratefulness for their loving decisions. To my family, my wife Lois children and their spouses Maureen and Tim, Jim and Sugar as well as my grandsons and their spouses Ryan and Bea and Payton and Sophie, how they have stood by me during very troubling times is a testimony of their love and care for me. Our church family here at FBC White Castle who prayed so hard, diligently and faithfully for us and still do today. The many friends we have made during the course of this journey, the Houston friends, Deidra and Renita who we met at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital many years ago, to our church family who were so dear to us while living in Houston, the members of West University Baptist Church their Pastor, Pastor of Sr. adults and many members who are too numerous to name individually, of the congregation. The kindness shown us is indescribable and will live forever in our hearts. To our extended family and friends your prayers, thoughts and kind acts have encouraged us and we are eternally grateful for all of you.
For our newer friends and as a refresher for others; after spending 3 ½ months in hospital in Houston, the last 70 days attached to an experimental heart life support machine the LVAD Unit (Left Ventricular Assist Device), while awaiting a heart transplant. I receive a donor heart on July 20, 1993 and after three months of recovery while living in Houston we were able to return to our home and continue life. While undergoing annual post heart transplant test in Houston in July 2009 a blood clot the size of a golf ball was discovered in the upper left chamber of my heart which required surgery to remove and led to the demise of that heart. I was put back on the transplant list for a second heart transplant and after 15 months of waiting while living in Houston, by the grace of God and a generous donor family; I received a second heart transplant on Wednesday, November 25 2010. After another three month recovery period we returned to our home in March 2011.
With all of this said I seem to always come back to; how does one say thanks for such miracles in one’s life?
I have reached the conclusion that a simple thanks and a word of appreciation is not enough, so I have dedicated myself to be of service to my fellow man by being active in my church, community and various organizations as a way of saying thanks and to be an encouragement to others. On July 20 I celebrated 26 years of quality life, thankful living and always being mindful to give thanks in everything I am able do and thanking God every day for His great mercy and grace. I hope this note finds all of you in good health and enjoying life as the Lord gives it to us.
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,