Transplant Stories


"Growing up with a congenital heart condition made the first 47 years of my life difficult. I was unable to participate in any sports. I was unable to do anything that would exert myself. While growing up I had several open-heart surgeries the first was at age 4 in 1964 two more to follow but with the surgeries, they were never able to get me to repair the defective heart. In 1984 I had the final open heart surgery with my old failing heart. It was a few years after that my heart started to decline and I was told that eventually, I would be in need of a heart transplant. It was around 1993 that I received a pacemaker due to an irregular heartbeat. Through the years I had a lot of support from my family especially my wife and two sons. In 2003 I started to go through the transplant evaluation. At the time my numbers were good and I was not a candidate for a transplant. In January 2006 I started to fail and the evaluations which had been ongoing were looked at again. It was in April 2003 that The Transplant Team at New York Presbyterian Hospital finally placed me on the UNOS transplant list as a status 2A. On December 3, 2006, while shopping I received the call that a heart had become available and to go to CPMC. I remember being taken into the operating room late that night and I received a life-saving transplant. Since receiving the transplant I have been able to ride a bike and do things I was never able to do. I have participated in two transplant games. I owe many thanks to the doctors through the years that have treated me and got me to where I was able to receive a transplant. Since receiving the my transplant I have volunteered with the New York Organ Donor Network and currently on the Gift of Life Board of Directors."
Paul J. Witte
Heart Transplant Date 12/03/06
"My name is Gary Southard and I am alive today because of my Gift of Life, I received from a wonderful lady I never knew. That gift was a heart that I received on September 27, 2006, I was three years on the transplant list every day wondering if I would live to see another day, that was a long three years for me and my family. I now get a chance to spend time with my lovely wife Ellen of 37 years and our two sons Christopher and John, as well as other family and friends. May God bless my donor and her family, I will spend the rest of my life doing whatever I can do to help the over 120,000 people waiting for a transplant. Will you help? My donor is my Hero. You could be a Hero too! Sign up today. Today I give back by working with Donate Life Group of Orange County which is a group of dedicated volunteers comprised of donor families, donor recipients, living donors, and friends and family of those who have been affected by organ donation. We work in our communities under the auspices of the New York Organ Donor Network. Those of us who have received organ transplants are passionate about helping others get the same second chance at life! I also serve on the Board of Directors for A Gift of Life Heart & Lung Transplant Support Group. May God Bless each and every one of you."
Gary Southard
Heart Transplant Date 09/27/06
"When I was put on the waiting list in 1991. I was told that, with the rarest blood type, I could wait a long time. As time progressed, I always felt confident, but the last two months of the 10 month wait I was reduced to a bare minimum of energy. However, my trust in the Lord kept my confidence level up. When Felicia called on the night of July 28th, a 13 year old boy died in a bad car accident; he was my miracle donor. The power of prayer has extended my life for over 22 years. The blessings of my miracle never cease. In the past 22 years, I have traveled with my family, helped the Gift of Life touch many lives financially and educating. Having 5 grandchildren and a loving wife has made the journey a most memorable one."
James Flynn
Heart Transplant Date 07/28/92