My dad died of a heart attack at age 57, which maybe should have been a clue that I might face heart issues in the future. And, sure enough, in 1980 I had a quadruple heart bypass. After more heart surgery in 1986, I was told that I needed a heart transplant. My cardiologist attempted to schedule an evaluation at Stanford in California, but I was turned down due to my age of 61 years. (At that time, Stanford had a cutoff age of 59.) However, on April 9, 1987 my wife Judy and I packed two small suitcases and flew to Salt Lake City for an evaluation. The good news was that I was accepted, but I was entirely too sick to return home.
At that point I was put on oxygen to begin my wait for a heart transplant. We found an apartment in a complex that had several other potential heart transplant recipients. My condition continued to worsen, making the six week wait seem like an eternity, however in retrospect I was exceedingly fortunate that a heart became available in such a short time. On Memorial Day we were called to the L.D.S. Hospital, where I was transplanted with the donated heart of a 17 year old young man. Our summer was spent with doctor appointments, many heat biopsies, lots of walking, and becoming acquainted with the other people in the complex who had received transplants or were still waiting. At the end of August, the Director of the Transplant Program released me to return home to Council Bluffs, IA. I asked him for a "guarantee" for my new heart, to which he replied "There are no guarantees in life, but your new heart will outlast the rest of your old body!!!"
So with a tear in my eye, I thanked the staff and we returned home. I felt like I was alive again, and resumed golfing, volunteer works and woodworking projects. Several heart transplant recipients in the Omaha area started a support group called New Hearts. Judy and I were charter members and I became motivated to promote donor
awareness and began visiting individuals who were facing heart transplants and letting them see that there was hope! I enjoyed talking with nursing students, service clubs and churches to encourage organ donation.
On May 25, 2015 I celebrated 28 years since my transplant. I contribute that longevity to compliance with my doctors, exercise and the support of my wife—plus lots of