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Because of my family history of heart problems (father’s side) and cancer (mother’s side), I had scheduled a stress test and a colonoscopy for early in January 2000. No problems were envisioned since I had just beaten my whole family in a 5K Jingle Bell Fun Run.
I considered myself to be in better than average physical shape. Well that ended soon enough when the stress test revealed three arteries were over 95% closed.
That resulted in my 1st helicopter ride to St. Luke's for a stent implant. In between all this, my wife and I got married on March 18th.
During the previously mentioned hospital stay, blood was detected in a stool and a colonoscopy revealed a cancer in the colon. Surgery at M D Anderson was a 100% cure. Recovery from all incidents was smooth until October 12, 2000. While on a business trip in southern California, I suffered a dissected upper aorta. My 2nd helicopter ride got me to the UCLA Medical center where after 12 hours of surgery, including a bovine patch implant, and four days of unconsciousness, I was on my way to a slow road of recovery.
After returning home, I was diagnosed by a local cardiologist as having developed Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). That’s when I came to St. Lukes for treatment in their CHF Clinic. The following six years where pretty good as the doctors and nurses in the clinic where able to facilitate the workings of my heart and I enjoyed a good quality of life, playing golf, walking/trotting, and traveling. From early 2002 until early 2005, I was a member of Mended Hearts and did volunteer work including visiting patients who had bypass, valve repair, and stent implant surgeries. However, by August of 2005, all of the remedies (diet, exercise, and medication) had finally reached the end of their run. The only recourse now was a heart transplant.
Four months later, a Friday the 13th in January 2006, at 7:00AM, we received a call that a heart might be available and that evening the new one was in and the old one was out.
The last two years have been unbelievable. I have seen my granddaughters graduate from high school and going to college, my son married and my grandson born (I was the 1st to hold him after the parents). I now Play golf three to four times a week, travel, and am walking/running up to 3.3 miles (5K) in less than 44 minutes. I have also been a volunteer in the Heart Exchange Program at St. Lukes Hospital for the last 6 months, visiting other heart transplant patients, both those awaiting hearts and those recovering from the procedure.