"In December of 1994, after going through weeks of being short of breath and having dizzy spells, I finally gave in and went to see a doctor. After several weeks of guessing and wondering, they performed and EKG at the request of my wife. I was then hospitalized immediately and after many tests, I was diagnosed being in heart failure. I later found that this was due to a virus that I caught somewhere earlier that year. This virus proceeded to destroy the left ventricle of my heart and caused fluid to build up in my lungs. In December of 1994, after being diagnosed as being in heart failure, I was told that somewhere down the road I might need a heart transplant. My immediate response was “NO WAY.” During this time in my life I was having what I thought was a great time, a great job, money, fun, and partying. Besides, there was no reason for me to be in heart failure, I had just had a perfect physical. There were no signs of anything wrong with my heart, no clogged arteries, shortness of breath, no history of heart attacks, and no sign of irregular heart rhythms.

In July of 1995, we moved to Alaska from Pennsylvania. We drove all the way on one of the most exciting journeys of my life. Prior to my leaving Pennsylvania, my condition took a turn for the better and my irregular heart rhythms became normal again and my shortness of breath disappeared. All was normal again. By the time we reached Alaska, my condition worsened and once again I was short of breath with irregular heart rhythms. Over the next two years, my health and heart condition deteriorated. During the months before my transplant I spent several days in the hospital solving one problem after another. Finally, on the 11th of July 1997 I was flown to the University of Washington Medical Center to be evaluated and hopefully be placed on the transplant list. On the 20th of July 1997, I had a heart transplant.

It was like starting life over again. I remember thinking about the donor. I still find it somewhat hard to believe that this young man, at some point in his life, decided to become a donor. When he passed away at the age of 21, I received his heart. I do not think I will ever be able to express my feelings for his act. I just hope that when he looks down from heaven, he smiles at me. I think he knows just how truly thankful I am. My life is now absorbed in helping others to learn how much this gift is needed and how to pass this gift to others in need. This is the only way I know how to say THANK YOU to this young man and our God who I believe is holding this young man’s hand.

There are several sayings that relate to how I feel. Some are, “No greater love hath as man than to lay down his life for a friend”, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”, and the 11th commandment, “Love ye one another as I have loved you, love ye also”. These quotes mean much more to me than ever. I feel that if God did this for me, if he gave me another chance, than I can live these sayings for him and help my fellow humans."