Written by: Leslie Lentz
Our family’s lives were completely changed in April 2007 when my husband, at just thirty-one years old, was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. My husband was a former collegiate athlete and was in incredible shape. We would have never imagined that he would be diagnosed with heart failure and at the time, we did not know anything about heart disease.
I was five months pregnant with our second child and our oldest child was only five when he was diagnosed. The doctor came out, sat me down, and said to start preparing myself that he may not make it out of surgery. You can imagine how a pregnant woman with a five-year-old child might take this news, it was not a pretty sight. Luckily, my husband made it out of surgery and we started a new and unknown phase in our lives.Our family’s lives were completely changed in April 2007 when my husband, at just thirty-one years old, was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. My husband was a former collegiate athlete and was in incredible shape. We would have never imagined that he would be diagnosed with heart failure and at the time, we did not know anything about heart disease.
Of course we all know that life does not always go as planned, but this plan was outside of anything we were prepared for. Heart disease unexpectedly plowed into our lives like a bulldozer. Throughout the whole experience, we visited the emergency room over 20 time, he underwent over 30 surgeries, and collectively, we spent an entire year’s worth of time in the hospital.
Heart disease impacted every part of our lives including our marriage. I mean…who signs on to be a caretaker/nurse at 28 years old? Our children were impacted as well, spending most of their spring breaks, holidays, and vacations in the hospital. All in all, it was a very difficult time for our whole family, including my husband.
In March of 2016, my husband coded and started to pass. A team of doctors and nurses spent over an hour stabilizing him. At that point, it became clear that a transplant was our only option.
The biggest gift of all came just a few months ago. On November 19th, 2016 a selfless organ donor blessed my husband with a new heart, five days before my husband’s 41st birthday. Our donor gave my husband the opportunity to be a dad again. Our two little boys will be able to see their dad at their high school graduations, weddings, or simply at ballgames and class parties all because a selfless person chose to continue life beyond their own.
Our marriage has been given renewed hope too. The looming darkness that has hovered for years has been lifted, in its place is excitement and hope. Hope is a beautiful thing when you’ve been in the dark for years.
Heart failure was hard, but it blessed our family with many gifts. We have a deeper appreciation of life, we’ve met amazing people that shared in our journey, and the best part has been seeing the abundance of love that our community provided. If you are going through tough times, I encourage you to keep going. Better days are ahead. Out of darkness comes light, sometimes it just takes a while to appear. God bless our organ donor. One selfless act has created so much joy and opportunity.