Two heart attacks — my first one was in 1988 and the second in 1991 — severely damaged my heart muscle. So began a journey to live with permanent heart disease and blocked arteries.
Two years later and after many extensive
tests, the University of Alberta Hospital
Cardiology Department discovered that my
arteries, which had been opened up by angioplasty,
were becoming blocked again.
In 1993, I required quadruple bypass surgery
to replace the four damaged arteries with
the arteries taken from my legs. This surgery
could never repair the damage to my heart,
but it allowed my heart to function better.
My damaged heart would continue to fail and
in 2002 the heart rhythm became so erratic
that a pacemaker-defibrillator was surgically
implanted to assist my heart.
In 2003 after taking a VO2 test, it was
very clear a new heart was needed and I was
placed on the transplant waiting list.
In August 2003 I received my new heart;
thanks to a donor whom I will never know,
but will always be a special individual to
The transplant brings a completely new
perspective to a recipient. As I was healing
from the surgery, there were challenges that
served to remind me of the opportunity I
had been given in my new life — the opportunity
to see our children become accomplished adults,
see my grand daughter grow up, and knowing
there will be a future with my wife who is
also my caregiver.
The struggles after surgery were minor
compared to the benefits of a transplant.
I became a new person as I enjoying different
interests; even exercise is becoming something
to look forward to. Proper diet and exercise
are important to my long-term health and
What I am most grateful for is that I am
able to plan each day, each month and even
each year knowing I will likely be here to
fulfil those plans. Before the transplant,
life was a day to day existence, but after
transplant, the opportunities seem endless.
GoodHearts is the best support program there can be. Who
else but other heart recipients who have made this incredible
journey, can relate to what it means to have a second chance.
GoodHearts also provides our caregivers
the opportunity to share their experiences
with other caregivers. Their journey through
the process is as incredible as that of the
recipients. Caregivers endure all the work,
concerns and worries without question or
thought for themselves, allowing us to focus
on getting better each day. They are all
angels in their own way.
In closing, I would like to say thank you
to my heart donor's family. I would also
like to thank my wife, the U of A heart function
clinic, the heart transplant team, the surgical
team, all of the physiotherapy staff and
my family and friends who continue every
day to provide a positive and supportive
influence, which gives me the encouragement
to continue getting better each day.