Friday, August 25, 2006

Heartfelt



Still at Cannon Beach, we've been driving into Portland frequently to visit my mom and my aunt. Yesterday my aunt told me a story I hadn't heard before, and it moved us all to tears.

She has a friend who had a heart transplant, nine years ago. He'd been an Olympic-class athlete, and now, with his new heart, he's again able to climb mountains, run marathons. In fact, he's participating this weekend in the annual and insane run from Mt. Hood to the Oregon Coast. A team event. But still...

Before his transplant, he'd come very close to the end. My aunt describes the two months he was hospitalized, awaiting a heart: she visited regularly and saw more machines and hoses than she imagined possible (I infer he was hooked to a ventricular assist device). All the while, the man maintained humor and optimism. When the heart arrived, it had come from a young college student, killed in an auto accident. It was a perfect match in all senses of the term.

My aunt's friend came to know the mother of his heart donor. They've become extremely close, and visit with one another regularly. He, my aunt says, is a big guy, six feet five or six. The mother is tiny, less than five feet. The three of them -- my aunt, the man, the mother of his heart -- spend time together frequently. My aunt says that when they meet, the mother -- whose ear is chest high to the man -- always leans to him, wraps her arms around him, ear to his chest, to hear the sounds of her son's heart, beating inside the man and giving him life.

10 comments:

Moof said...

Ok, now you've made me cry, too.

"The mother of his heart" still has her son ... and he not only has a new heart, he also has a new mother.

That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

Mother Jones RN said...

Wow, Doc, that was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story.

Intelinurse2B said...

this is how all transplant stories should be...

cathy said...

Wow, that just made me cry also...21 years ago I had a phone conversation with Mary Gohlke. I was so taken with her and the fact that she was this countries first successful heart and lung transplant patient.

I have so much interest in this area. I have written about her and Dr Reitz on my blog. I was to meet with her in Columbus Ohio in 1986. She passed away 5 years after her surgery, just a few months before I would have met her.

Organ transplantation is one of the greatest wonders of medicine.

kïrstin said...

hi.
im new in the neighborhood, so i am desiring to get to know some of my neighbors. i decided to come by and see what you do here. i like what i see... :)
you will like portland, and all the oregon coast. i am an oregonian myself, although ive been 'stuck' in oklahoma for way too long now.
what an endearing story! i love happy endings.

Ali said...

That was amazingly touching. Thanks.

Spiritual Emergency said...

He, my aunt says, is a big guy, six feet five or six. The mother is tiny, less than five feet. The three of them -- my aunt, the man, the mother of his heart -- spend time together frequently. My aunt says that when they meet, the mother -- whose ear is chest high to the man -- always leans to him, wraps her arms around him, ear to his chest, to hear the sounds of her son's heart, beating inside the man and giving him life.

You've painted a beautiful portrait with your words.

Meantime, here's a favorite song: Of Mothers and The Heart's Song.

Willow-esque said...

That's a great transplant story. As a mother, I can imagine that having a piece of my child in someone else would be a comfort, albeit small. At least there would be some part of the child living on..

Mimi said...

Wow, what a story! Beautiful. I became an organ donor back when my then 14 year old neice received a liver from a young donor.

Mimi

Mimi said...

I just realized that my previous comment was misleading. I have never given an organ but will if I die and my organs are still in usable condition.

Mimi