Waiting for a heart

Sometimes we meet people who are just too kind for words. Someone who touches your life and when you think back, you can’t remember them ever being crabby or mean or petty. People whose hearts are so big that they wear them out too soon.

That’s what happened to my friend K. He and I met while both going to a small college too many years ago to count. I switched to a larger school in my home town and coincidentally, he made the same move. For him though, it was a move to a much larger town where I was the only person he knew.

My family kind of adopted him. We were always just friends. We never dated but he used to send me flowers on Valentine’s day anyway. When there was a tragic double shooting down the hall in his dorm, he stayed with us. For days he slept on the couch in the comfort and security of our home. It became his second home for quite awhile.

Then I graduated, got married and moved 2000 miles away. He graduated and moved the other direction. You know how it goes.

We lost touch over the years but reconnected about a year & a half ago on Facebook. It was just before my last surgery in the city he moved to after college. We met for coffee before my surgical consult and he told me he’d been having heart problems again.

He had multiple heart surgeries as a child and was told he would probably be ok for 30 or 40 years. He was turning 40 the next month and the issues had begun right on schedule.

That day over coffee he told me that the next option, if the defibrillator failed, would be a transplant. That seemed so huge and far away. Too extreme when he still had an option or two left.

 He was in and out of hospital early on but seemed to be doing much better. The last few months things had gotten back on track. Work was going well, he’d had no real medical issues and about 3 weeks ago he told me that he and his wife are expecting a baby.

Then 2 or 3 days after he told me about the baby, I got another email. All it said was, “back in the cardiac ICU”. His heart had started to weaken and he had a considerable amount of fluid in his lungs. Still, he was hoping to get it resolved quickly and get home to his family.

He’s still there and said he probably will be for quite some time. I got annoyed being in the hospital for 10 days. I don’t know how he does it!

Today is his 41st birthday and he spent it meeting with the transplant team. His gift this year is word that he’s strong enough for a mechanical heart while he waits for a donor heart. It’s the news he was hoping and praying to hear.

So now he and the people who love him wait. The difficult part is that his life depends on another person’s death. Like so many other people waiting for organs, it comes at a price.

I can’t pretend to know how it feels to be on either end of a donation so I won’t even try. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who know it too well.

I’ve always checked that little organ donor box on my driver’s license but now they wouldn’t want any of my contaminated parts so I suppose all I can do now is ask other people to check the box.

Have you?

K – my thoughts are with you as you wait. I only wonder if any heart could be as big and overflowing as your original.


5 thoughts on “Waiting for a heart

  1. Oh Annie. I am so sorry for K and his family…I don’t really have any words. But I am an organ donor. When I was younger my family and I had a talk about it – we are all donors. When I got married Matt and I had the talk too, and we agree it’s so important.

    I hope this isn’t too macabre, but one of my friends passed away totally unexpectedly last year (she was my age – 35) of an aneurysm shortly after giving birth to her second child. She was an organ donor, and her heart, eyes, and many other organs were donated; her family has met with a few of the donors and their families and they are so incredibly grateful.

    • Christy I’m so sorry about your friend but what a beautiful gift her family gave to the recipients! I can’t imagine how grateful those people must be. It seems overwhelming.

      It must also be a comfort to her family knowing that she lives on. What greater gift could there be?

  2. Wow! What a story. Praying for a friend. I am not currently a donor, but will be changing that. There is absolutely no reason I cannot be.

  3. My box has always been checked even before my husband needed a liver and kidney transplant. Thank you for making others aware of the real life(s) of the recipients waiting for the wonderful gift(s) of organ donation. My sincere prayers go out to your friend K to get his heart soon…as well as for your complete recovery. Blessings.

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