Before I start, I want to take this opportunity to thank my donor and donor family. I am so grateful for the gift I was given. I was diagnosed with heart failure 10 years ago when I was 23. I know what you're thinking: I haven't aged a bit. The last 10 years have been somewhat of an adventure. Throughout my journey, there were ups and there were downs.
During the ups, I was able to work, travel, exercise and live a good quality of life. During the downs, there were periods where my family and friends thought they lost me. The worst of which came in 2014. I was in the middle of playing squash with two of my best friends and I had an “incident”. I required CPR for 8-9 minutes, was in an induced coma for 8 days and CCU for 2 weeks. That being said, I always seemed to bounce back.
Needless to say, heart failure and the ‘what ifs’ were always on the back of my mind. I worried about having events at the gym, at dinner, at weddings. Prior to my heart transplant, I became known as the wedding crasher… literally! With all that to say, heart failure was a blessing in disguise. I’ve been able to meet some amazing friends and colleagues, with the opportunity to get involved in the heart failure community. Alongside Jillianne Code and Sean Virani – I was able to co-found Canada’s first HF focussed patient advocacy group, Heartlife Foundation.
I knew at some point in my journey I’d require a transplant. For me, it came in August of last year. I was officially listed. I remember the moment Dr. Davis came into my room at St. Paul’s Hospital and gave me the news. It was surreal, but I was ready. I knew this was the only option. And I wasn't planning on arguing with Dr. Davis.
Fast-forward to June 6 at 10:30 am, I get a call from Wynne. We think we have a heart. Me being me, I ask if it’s okay if I go home and shower and change. Get a couple of things done for work. So many thoughts were running through my head.
“Is this the one? I have to call my wife. Am I ready for this?”
I make it to St. Paul’s at around 11:30 am. The team is ready for me. Everyone is smiling, extremely welcoming, and so excited. Surprisingly, I was pretty calm. Or at least I thought I was. Then I waited, and waited, and waited. The nerves started to kick in.
Sometime in the afternoon, Dr. Cheung came in to say hi. He was beaming – and ready to go. He said, “I’m going home to take a nap and be back in a few hours to do this.” Not a bad idea. His confidence and friendly demeanour put me at ease. Four hours later, I went into the operating room with at 11:30pm, and my life was changed forever. My wife always said I my old heart was large because I had a lot of love to give. Now that my new heart is smaller, I tell her that the love is just focused.
Currently, I am 2 months and 2 days from the day of the transplant. I’m excited for the next stage of my life with my new beautiful and powerful heart. I look forward to spending time with family and friends, travelling with jessica, building heartlife alongside Jillianne, and of course dancing at weddings without worrying!
I wouldn't be here if it weren’t for a lot of people.
First and foremost: to my family, my friends, my wife Jessica. You've been amazing; thank you for your continuous support, care and patience. My fellow transplant recipients everywhere: Jillianne, Sunny, you are inspirations. Thank for your guidance and answering my random questions at all hours!
To the St. Pauls Care team and the post-transplant team: such amazing work you do. Your passion and commitment to patient care is truly something special. To Dr. Virani and the rest of my team: thanks for putting up with me the last 10 years; your guidance has been integral for my success.
To Dr. Cheung, I’ve had a thank you card sitting on my desk for weeks. I can’t express in words how grateful I am for your commitment to your field and your patients. Jessica told me that Dr. Cheung came into the surgical ICU to check in on his patients that just had transplants. She then went on to tell me it was his day off and his birthday. This is a testament to the level of care that’s provided to patients.
To BC Transplant, I am beyond grateful for your dedication to saving lives and offering hope to families. The work you do for British Columbians is remarkable.
Once again, to my donor and donor family – thank you for the gift you have given my family and I. You have given me a second chance to live a full life. I will do everything I can to live a life that I hope will make you proud.
And finally, I would like to encourage anyone who reads this to become an organ donor. Please head to the BC transplant website. It’s easy, its fast and most importantly – you could save a life.