Unlike many others who had heart troubles prior to receiving a transplant — some for a number of years — I experienced heart failure just a couple months prior to needing a transplant. In retrospect, though, my heart functions had diminished over a period of three years. When I learned that I had only a couple of months to live and needed a heart transplant I was encouraged to visit the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, as we were living in Phoenix at the time. I had decided not to consider transplantation as a solution to my heart problems. However, when I learned of the many — 98 heart recipients — who had received new hearts and were living healthy and active lives, as well as getting a lot of encouragement from transplant #97 — Bob Barnett — at the University Medical Center in Tucson, I decided to put my life into the hands of God and the medical centre transplant team. So on Aug. 4, 1986, at the age of 26 I received the miracle of new life from one, and the family of the one, who believed that a tragic death for the one could mean life for another.
Since my transplant, I have continued to lead an active life, refusing to let physiological issues hinder my love for and participation in sport and exercise. Since the transplant, my life-long partner and love of my life has given me three wonderful boys — now 19, 13, and 12 years of age — each of whom are similarly and competitively active in sports. Of all the things I appreciate most since my heart transplant, it is the many recreational activities, such as soccer, skiing, hiking, camping and golf — I can enjoy with my family.
There have been many people along the way who have encouraged and shown me that I am just as capable of achieving my dreams and personal goals as any other man.
- My heartfelt thanks goes out to:
The donor family for their gift of life.
- Bob Barnett mentor and friend — transplant #97 Tucson Medical Center.
- Dr. Isognogal and the transplant team of the Tucson University Medical Center.
- Ilene Burton, post-transplant co-ordinator, and post-transplant team of the University of Alberta Hospital who have taken exceptional care of me during the past 18 years and to whom I owe my life.
- Mark Haykowski, of the physiotherapy department at the University of Alberta, who proved and took me to a level of fitness that I never thought I would be capable of achieving.
- Ken Riess, my personal coach, mentor and friend without whom I would never have realized a life-long dream of running a half Ironman and some day a full Ironman.
- Silvio Dobri, president of the GoodHearts Mentoring Foundation, mentor and friend who has given me an opportunity to do something for the heart transplant community that I would not have been able to do on my own.