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So grateful for the gift of new life!

My name is Patrick McEntee and I am a 44-year-old man who received a life-saving heart transplant on August 13, 2017. I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 1996. Nine years later, a series of heart related illnesses began with two strokes and a heart attack. Ultimately, my heart muscle continued to weaken from congestive heart failure to the point I was sent for a heart transplant evaluation.

Updates (36)

August 12, 2019

Two years ago, this man, Robert, made his final act a loving, caring, selfless and giving one. Because Bob and his family made the decision to donate his organs when he passed away from a brain tumor, I am here two years later, happy and much more healthy than I was before.

I hope that what I have done with this immeasurable gift, honors the one who gave it to me. I hope that what I will do, will continue to honor the gift. It’s been two years, but I still do not take life for granted. After coming so close to death, I don’t think it’s possible to ever do that again the way I may have done when I was younger. The smallest things still amaze me in relation to my health. I can still remember how difficult it was to exert myself, even minimally. I no longer plan my walks to provide opportunities to casually stop and rest. Crossing a large room comes with ease. I don’t have to plot the shortest route with tables or chairs along the way to stop at to catch my breath.

By this time next week, I will have completed my 11th 5k race. Prior to transplant, my times were in the range of an hour and a half to two hours. I consistently finish in under an hour now, even if I’m just walking most of the 5k.

I have gotten over the feeling of forgetting something every time I leave the house. That was a constant for the three years I wore the LVAD and worried I’d forget my extra batteries. I no longer obsess over having my phone fully charged just in case “the call” comes. However, I do still have to remember to bring my medicine with me. I’ll always have to take my anti-rejection meds, but it’s a small price to pay.

Speaking of “the call,” I still can remember the scenario. Friday night, Amy and I splurged and had pizza for dinner (whoops, sorry about that sodium bomb I devoured). How could I have known that would be the last thing I would eat for two days. We got to bed early-ish for a Friday night. Amy’s asleep. I’m awake reading As You Wish by Cary Elwes. I had just finished a chapter and was putting the book down and getting ready to put my CPAP mask on and go to sleep. Suddenly my phone rang. Amy woke up with a gasp. I looked at the caller ID expecting to see a 216 area code. It wasn’t that, but it was a northeast Ohio area code. Amy and I looked at each other knowing what it was. We were right. The voice on the other end of the phone said, “This is the transplant coordinator at the Cleveland Clinic, there’s only one reason I’d be calling you at this time of night. We think we have a heart for you.” I put the phone on speaker so we could both hear. We stayed surprisingly calm. When we had our instructions and hung up the phone, we immediately prayed for Bob and his family. We had prayed for them from the time I was listed and asked all our family and friends to do so whenever they offered to pray for me.

What an amazing ride the last two years have been. Its not that they have been without challenges and obstacles, but I’m so grateful that I was able to endure the wait to be able to reach these obstacles. Without a doubt, all of these combined don’t add up to living with heart failure. We weren’t alone while I was waiting. We’re not alone now. Family and friends still pray for me. I still ask them to pray for Bob and his family.

Not everyone who receives a transplant has the opportunity to communicate back and forth with his or her donor family. I’m grateful that Bob’s sister reached out to me a few months after I wrote. Since then, I have had the opportunity to speak with his mother and other members of his family. It’s such a gift to be able to reach out and share good news about what I am able to do with Bob’s heart. I enjoy hearing stories of Bob’s sons as they are growing up. It hurts my soul that they lost their father at such a young age.

Please continue to pray for them as this joyful time of year for me, is very bittersweet for them.

#ThanksBob

August 11, 2018

What an amazing week!

I am so grateful to my donor Bob for the gift of new life he gave me. He allowed me to attend and compete in this year’s Donate Life Transplant Games of America. While I was unable to bring back a medal, it was fun to compete for the first time since I had to give up softball more than a decade ago. As it turns out, my new heart didn’t come with any additional athletic ability or coordination. So no medal, but a trophy case full of memories…oh and a Guinness World Record! I was one of 540 solid organ transplant recipients in one place at one time at the closing ceremonies of the Games! Thus, I and 539 new and old friends are officially in the Guinness Book of World Records.

But really, the joy of the week in Salt Lake City was about the people – recipients like me, living donors, donor families, those waiting, caregivers, supporters and more. Heck, even Mitt Romney made an appearance one evening to watch some volleyball!

On my first day in the Salt Palace convention center, I ran into Russ Maynard from Team New England. I immediately recognized him, and he recognized me. Russ saw me struggling with my LVAD in the 2016 5k and he walked with me for a time and motivated me to power through and not cut short the race. I kept going, falling further and further behind the crowd until there was no one left in sight from the race. As I turned the corner for the final leg, Amy came back to walk with me after finishing her race. When we approached the finish line, Amy rallied a crew of people to cheer me to the finish line. Among them was Russ who walked with me to the finish line. It was so great to see him and catch up and show him that I didn’t have the LVAD anymore, but this beautiful new heart that allows me to finish these races in roughly half the time. I also got to see Jenny again and meet her mom Dorothea (Russ’ wife).

It was wonderful sharing stories with others who have walked a similar road as me. Despite that fact, each story is completely miraculous in it’s own way. That’s the magic of organ donation. It saves lives! It continues stories!

Please say an extra prayer for Bob’s family as they are approaching a really painful anniversary of Bob’s passing. #ThanksBob

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Guestbook

July 13, 2018

Transplant Alliance Foundation, is proud to supply financial grants to help pay transplant related medical bills.

Transplant Alliance Foundation, Inc

August 9, 2017

Lifting you up in prayer !

The Broering Family

June 29, 2017

Pat, I continue to include you in my prayers. I will add you to our prayer chain in our parish.

Jane Pierron

April 1, 2016

Have a great walk tomorrow Pat, way to keep working toward your goal. Remember my race motto, slow and steady finishes the race!

peace, Chris and Barry