Stories from the heart: Heart Month 2018

February is Heart Month and we're sharing stories of those who have received one of

the most precious gifts—the gift of life.

They have all had a second chance at life. In celebration of Heart

Month, we're highlighting the stories of heart transplant recipients

and their families. Here are some of those stories: organ donation

Rob Nutter



                                                                            I was diagnosed with dilated

                                                                cardiomyopathy (also known

                                                                as an enlarged heart) at age

                                                                38. As my health worsened, an

                                                                implantable cardioverter-

                                                                defibrillator (ICD) was

                                                                installed, which allowed me to

                                                                live a normal life for a number

                                                                of years like that.  


                                                                Then in 2011, I went into

                                                                cardiac arrest, which caused

                                                                my kidneys to fail. I had an                                                                                                                     LVAD installed and was put on

                                                                dialysis. I spent about a year

                                                                with my LVAD and receiving

                                                                dialysis treatments until in

                                                                June 2013, I receive a double

                                                                transplant: a new heart and


Over four years later, I’m well. I walk every day, do some gardening,

hunting, fishing, and spend time with my family. All the things I do

now are because of a family that in their time of loss, donated their

loved ones organs to a complete stranger and for that I am very


Antonella Ciliberto Mazzocchio

I was diagnosed with Lupus

when I was 19 years old. But

it was after giving birth to

my daughter in 1992 and

suffering from a heart

attack, that I first began

experiencing troubles with

my heart. For 24 years

following, I struggled with a

sick heart—damaged and

growing larger and larger as

the years went on. 

Finally in 2013, my heart

finally couldn’t take it

anymore and I once again, went into cardiac arrest. I was

transferred to the hospital where I was told that my heart was

only functioning at 15 percent and that I would need a transplant.

Eight months later, I got a new heart.  


My story is proof that miracles do happen. Thank you to all of the

people who gave me a second chance at life—from the first

responders who were there to assist me at the time of need, to my

cardiologist, heart transplant team, and all the wonderful nurses

who take care of me. And of course, thank you to my donor and my

donor family. I would not be here today if it weren't for you. 

Ron (recipient) and Susan Wakefield

                                                                                           Ron was diagnosed with

                                                                                      congestive heart failure,

                                                                                      caused by the valve on

                                                                                      right side not functioning

                                                                                      correctly. Unfortunately, a

                                                                                      simple valve operation was

                                                                                      not possible. He continued

                                                                                      to deteriorate and then he

                                                                                      was recommended to have

                                                                                      a transplant as the only



                                                                                      After years of trying all

                                                                                      sorts of different solutions,

                                                                                      we reached a point where

no more could be done. His heart continued to deteriorate. In 2016,

it was recommended that the only solution for Ron would be a heart

transplant—but due to his size and blood type, it was hard to find a

suitable match. And while he waited for a new heart, he continued

to struggle. Finally, in June 2017, Ron got his new heart.

We’re so thankful to the many miracles we received during this time

and from people we least expected. We never felt alone. We’re so

very grateful to the many doctors and nurses at hospital who

assisted with this life changing event. Everyone was very 

professional, compassionate, and expert. 


Ron and I cannot express enough our gratitude to the donor's

family. Simply put, Ron probably would not be here without the

special heart he received.

Cory Gilmore

I was diagnosed with                                                                                             

congenital heart disease in

2009, which affected the left

ventricle of my heart. This

meant that my heart was

enlarged and my health waned.

After running the gamut of

medications, procedures, and

therapies, my heart team at St.

Paul’s decided in September

2016 to put me on the list for a


It was a relief of sorts although

there could be many setbacks. I

was Glad that something could

be done after the years of weakness, shortness of

breath and anxiety. I was ready for whatever happened.

Just one short week later, a heart became available. I knew I was

blessed by a short wait for my donor heart. I had my surgery early

October 2016 and since then, recovery has been great. I’ve been

active outdoors getting in lots of hiking, skateboarding and walking.

I also met a great woman and am engaged to be married.

Words cannot convey the joy and gratitude I have to God, my donor

and donor family, plus my excellent heart team for everything that

has been done.

Every time I push my skateboard around a park or take a flight of stairs and not get winded, I think of my donor and their family. I appreciate the gift I have received by the love of a stranger. It pushes me forward every day to appreciate my second opportunity at living a fruitful life.

Have a story to share?

Want to thank a special living donor in your life? Share your story with us on social media using the hashtag #BCTransplant or share your story on our website.


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