After suffering his first heart attack in 1997 at the age of 40, Jack was diagnosed with aggressive malignant arterial sclerosis. Unfortunately, heart disease was extremely common on his father's side of the family, and Jack found himself being no different. In 2003, Jack was hit once again with his second heart attack. Stints were placed in is heart but did not prevent is third heart attack in 2004. Jack underwent his second bypass surgery, and in 2005, he received a pacemaker. In 2006, a pacemaker with a defibrillator was placed in Jack's heart. After this surgery, he bounced back and was finally feeling better. In the fall of 2008, Jack began to experience arrhythmia.
A seemingly well Jack received clearance from his physicians to take a mission trip to Nepal in 2009. During their flight, Jack cardiac arrested, forcing the flight to ground in Qatar. He spent 6 days in the Qatar hospital before he was healthy enough to travel back to the United States.
In March 2009, Jack underwent an ablation surgery. During this surgery, his blood pressure dropped 50/30 for three minutes, pushing one of his kidneys into failure. In June of 2009, Jack was told he had one year to live; thus beginning an extensive and aggressive work-up for his transplant surgeries. Not only did Jack need a heart transplant, but he needed a new kidney as well. Jack was listed on the National Transplant waiting list in July of 2009.
A very faithful and devout Christian, Jack trusted the Lord to heal his body in God's timing and perfect way. Because his health was quickly deteriorating, Jack resigned his church position as a minister in September of 2009.
On November 14, 2009, Jack received his life-saving heart and kidney transplant.
Jack began promoting organ and tissue donation in January of 2011, just a little over one year after his life-saving heart and kidney transplant. Jack participates in monthly community events ranging from speaking engagements at schools, civic organizations, churches, staff meetings, and corporate events to throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game. He participates in radio and television interviews as well. Jack is also a minister, and he is very mindful of the new physical life God has blessed him with. Because of Jack's ministerial positions and the hours he puts in volunteering for Donate Life Louisiana (DLL), he impacts all ages and demographics. On a monthly basis, Jack reaches and impacts thousands of people in his hometown of Lake Charles, LA and the surrounding communities.
In April of 2011, Jack set out on an incredible donor awareness journey. He rode his bike from Moss Bluff, LA to New Orleans, LA. After a seven-day trek, cycling a total of 262 miles (35-40 miles per day), he arrived at Oschner Medical Center where he was greeted by his transplant teams, DLL staff, media, friends and family. Over the course of his 262 mile journey, Jack stopped in many cities across the state promoting donation on television and radio stations and speaking to groups.
Jack Tillery is a man of incredible faith, gratefulness and humility. Before his transplant, Jack had taken many mission trips to Nepal. In May of 2011, Jack took his first trip back to Nepal post transplant, and this time, he took the Donate Life flag, using it to spread donor awareness and share his story of hope with not only our state, but the world!
Jack lives each day honoring the Legacy of his donor, Mike. Jack expresses his life here on Earth is "multi-purposed” – to glorify God for the gift of life, to honor his donor in his decision to be an organ donor, to express appreciation for the Ochsner Multi-Organ Transplant Teams and Medical Staff, and to promote Donate Life Louisiana and challenge people to register as an organ donor.