Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Silvio's Story

I was walking to the bus stop when my chest felt like someone had placed a weight on it. I slowed my pace hoping the tightness on my chest would ease. It didn't, so I sat in the bus shelter. I was gulping for air and sweating but managed to board the bus. The bus ride took 15 minutes and the walk from the bus stop to the Edmonton Journal Building was painfully slow. I had to sit down in the atrium, but once I got to the fifth floor receptionist's desk I could go no farther and asked that she call an ambulance.

From that point — about 11 a.m., April 24, 1998, until May 7, my memories are like snapshots in a photo album. I recall the wail of the siren ... the pain spreading to my jaw and teeth ... seeing my wife at the University of Alberta Hospital ... talking heads popping up around me ... a TV screen ... my beating heart ... a voice proclaiming “The bypass may not be enough to save him.”

Some months later a doctor told me I was given a 50-50 chance of surviving and had to be revived several times during the triple bypass.

A week after the bypass my crashed — I had congestive heart failure, my kidneys failed and I was placed on a ventilator. My heart wasn't strong enough to pump blood through my body and I was dying.

A heart transplant was the only alternative to keep me alive, my wife, Marielos, was told.
I was placed on the heart transplant list as a “status 4” — the urgency meant I had but hours to live.
A matching heart was found in a little over a day, and when I came to on May 7, Marielos told me I had a new heart.

She had to repeat it several times before I understood what she was telling me.
I owe my life to a donor and his family — generous people I will never know, yet no day goes by that I fail to thank them. The wonderful blending of miracle and medicine has given me a chance to live a full life once again. Medications, diet and exercise have helped with the recovery, but so has meeting other recipients whose positive attitude has been a source of inspiration.

I know of no better way to thank my donor and his family then to make a personal commitment to make others aware of the benefits of organ transplants and how the “the gift of life” can keep on giving.

December 2006.

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