Ralph C., Heart recipient, and his wife, Dawn

I had retired on December 31st, 2005 after a 33 year career in the pharmaceutical industry and my wife and I planned a month-long vacation to the South. Having 3 dogs (one a Great Dane) made finding a rental home difficult. We did however find a wonderful home on the ocean in Sea Island, Georgia. After a two-day drive to Georgia, we arrived at our rental house. Beautiful! After dinner on the first night in Georgia, I started feeling badly. The next day I saw a local physician and he felt that that I may have congestive heart failure and I went immediately to the local hospital in Brunswick for a cardiac catheterization. After the testing done in Georgia, I was taken by ambulance to St. Vincent's hospital in Jacksonville, Florida for a quadruple by-pass operation. This was not successful and the surgeon told my wife that I would die within a week unless I was put on an artificial heart and awaited a transplant. I was flown by helicopter to the Mayo Clinic and put on a BIVAD (a bi-ventricular assist device) that pumped my heart until I could receive a transplant. The surgeon who performed the operation told my wife that I "was already in the coffin, and the door had been closed and the last nail was being hammered ". While I know now that this physician is prone to accentuate the most negative and dire results, it was clear that I was close to death. That surgery happened on February 10th, 2006. 

On April 21st, we received a phone call from my cardiologist Dr. Daniel Yip of the Mayo Clinic telling us that we should come to the hospital as a donor had been identified. While I was in the Intensive Care Unit at the Mayo Clinic, I prayed that God would allow me to share just one more Thanksgiving with my family. This Thanksgiving will be the seventh since my transplant. I am truly blessed and able to enjoy life only because of the generosity of my donor - Christian. In a letter to Christian’s mother, I wrote my hope “that what I do in the future will make a positive contribution to those in need and allow Christian’s act of charity to continue and positively impact other people.” I hope that the reading of this story will help fulfill the promise I made. Please follow Christian’s act of nobility and DONATE LIFE – PLEASE BECOME AN ORGAN DONOR!”