“I couldn’t believe how incredible I felt because of this heart. Because of my donor.”
Anthony, heart recipient
In the late 90s, Anthony experienced chest pain and, following a week of testing, found out that he had suffered a heart attack, brought on by an enlarged heart and arrhythmia. At the age of 53, Anthony watched his health rapidly decline and he was forced to leave his job after 20 years with the City of Columbus.
Over the next eight years, Anthony suffered from eight more heart attacks. Anthony recalls that with each heart attack, a strange sensation overcame him and he would fall to the ground, feeling like he’d been kicked in the chest. Doctors installed a defibrillator to help Anthony stay alive.
Anthony’s heart was so weak that on May 14, 2010, he was placed on the transplant list. The following day, he suffered 15 heart attacks. Anthony says the feeling of those heart attacks on that day was indescribable. “I made it to the bedroom and found my Bible,” says Anthony. “I was praying as my family called 911. All I could do was pray.”
After being stabilized at the hospital, Anthony knew his only hope for survival was a transplant. On May 22, 2010, Anthony’s prayers were answered, and he received the call that a heart had become available. “I underwent the transplant and immediately felt 200 percent better,” says Anthony. “I couldn’t believe how incredible I felt because of this heart. Because of my donor.”
As soon as Anthony was able to regain his strength, he became an active part of his family again, helping to cook, clean and partake in family hobbies. “I am so thankful for my transplant,” says Anthony. “I’ve written to my donor’s family to say thank you. I said thank you for their generosity, for the chance to live my life, see my four grandsons grow up and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. I hope to meet them some day to thank them in person.”
Until then, Anthony continues to share his story and offer support to others with heart disease. He volunteers his time with a local heart support group to speak with transplant recipients and visit heart patients to give them hope. He’s also an active Lifeline of Ohio volunteer, encouraging others to register to become donors. “Before I became sick, I hadn’t registered as a donor, because I didn’t think I could be one,” says Anthony. “You better believe I’m a registered donor now! I hope people reading my story will understand how important it is to take the time to make that decision and become a registered donor.”