Stories of Hope

See how organ, eye and tissue donation has healed lives.

Gary, tissue recipient

Gary has been married to his best friend and the mother of his two sons for more than 45 years. When he isn’t out fishing, boating, golfing or dancing, he enjoys spending time with his five grandkids. Each day, Gary pauses to feel profound gratitude for the young man who made it all possible through a tissue donation that saved his life.

When he first began experiencing shortness of breath and extreme fatigue, Gary thought allergies were to blame. A visit to his doctor and then a cardiologist revealed a much more serious health issue — Gary’s aortic valve was almost entirely blocked. After two unsuccessful open-heart surgeries, Gary was left battling a severe infection and dealing with additional complications. Sick and reliant upon his wife, Gary was slowly dying.

Hope was running low for Gary when he underwent his third heart operation in one year. This time was different, however; Gary received part of an aorta from a tissue donor. When he awoke from surgery, Gary felt right away that something was different.

“It was truly a miracle,” said Gary. “By the grace of God, everyone’s prayers, the caring medical staff and my ‘heart angel’s’ special gift, I had a fast recovery. I feel 20 years younger.”

Gary’s renewed health enabled him to return to work before eventually retiring to spend his golden years doing things with his wife that he would not have dreamed of without his transplant. Going for walks, working in the yard, traveling and family gatherings are activities that Gary does not take for granted. He is thankful for his second chance, and he and his wife actively promote registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor so that others might get a second chance too.

“My donor’s gift means everything to me,” said Gary. “I am living proof that donation can make a life or death difference.”

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