Life Connection of Ohio volunteer Pat McEntee received a life-saving heart transplant on August 13. Just one week later, he wowed medical staff as he walked a whole mile within the walls of the Cleveland Clinic! He continues to celebrate milestones made possible by a generous hero who gave the gift of life.
Who better to tell his story than Pat himself…
Well, it happened! It really, really happened! God found the right heart for me and at the right time. For nearly the last three years, I’ve been patiently waiting. I said over and over that I kept meeting people who were sicker than I was and that needed those hearts that came along more than I did at the time. My line always was “when I need it most, my time will come.” And as much as that may sound like guarding against disappointment, it truly was not. I am so blessed to have had 1,066 of the 1,068 days with the LVAD that gave me the luxury to patiently wait and to fully trust that God had the plan in order and all would work out. After suffering a mild stroke in July, it became apparent that my time needed to come sooner rather than later, and my team at the Cleveland Clinic fought to “get the pump out of me” as it was determined to be the place of origination of the blood clot that caused the stroke.
Now there’s that one piece of this wait that nagged me over and over throughout my transplant journey, and that was knowing that my joy was going to be someone else’s tragedy and some other family’s heartbreak. In this very emotional week, this has only become more amplified. My joy is greater than I would imagine, and I find myself sobbing at random times, sometimes to the point of “ugly crying.”
As much as I have been overcome by the outpouring of prayer, generosity and simple/not-so-simple ways I have been supported throughout these last three years, I’m bowled over again and again this week as I see my wife Amy and my Facebook posts border on viral, cards, gifts and visitors travel 4-8 hours to spend some time with me as I rally. I’ve also been visited by a local family who adopted us sight unseen three years ago when I unexpectedly received my LVAD. I had a place to stay for the duration of time I had to stay after discharge. I had a place to stay every time I traveled to Cleveland for follow up appointments. And, yes, when I get discharged (likely at some point this week), I will go to our Cleveland abode Miss Daisy style in the back seat of the car with a pillow protecting my sore chest.
This week will be all about educating myself and Amy for the changes that we will now face with a whole new and different lifestyle, medicine regimen and more. Hope has never left me throughout my journey, and I can’t wait to begin living to the fullest again!
So before I wrap this up, I want to again thank you all from the bottom of my awesome new sleek healthy heart. And please, please, please pray for my donor and for his/her family who is grieving so intensely right now. Pray also for those families who will face that critical life-saving decision in the future. May my life and the lives of others saved by them honor their ultimate gift.