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Monday, October 6, 2014

Roller Coaster Ride Waiting for a Heart - 1A Time Expires

Its been a whirlwind month as Mark has been on the 1A top priority heart transplant list with Abbott Northwestern/Minneapolis Heart Institute.  Thankfully, life was busy and full to keep our minds and hearts occupied while we waited for the phone to ring.  Our teenage daughters were in the throws of their tennis season, our work needed tending to and a glorious autumn in MN allowed us to sail often.
Chanhassen Girls Tennis - A Great Distraction
As the days ticked by with no call, an alternative plan took root thanks to several chance meetings with fellow heart transplant patients who chose to move to other cities in order to better their chances. We also had several dear friends with medical expertise who spoke into this decision with us and provided valuable wisdom and guidance - so grateful to Sue Strobel, Dr. Kathy Waller and Tom Rath. A plan began to develop for Mark to move down to our condo in Florida and associate with Tampa General Hospital if his 1A time here in MN was unsuccessful.

Come to FL - Visitors Welcome! 
With only 4 days left on 1A, we received THE call last Monday that we'd yearned and longed for everyday....a heart was available and Mark was in the running to receive it.  For me, a volcano of emotions erupted with long-suppressed hope finally having a reason to emerge.  I'd spent so much emotional effort trying to stay in the moment and savor each day. We haven't had the ability to plan or think about the future these last 9 months because of the uncertainty and futility of it - better to make today count. The thought of him being restored through this life-giving rescue of a new heart opened the floodgates of hope for the future.  I couldn't hold it back even though we were told there were 2 other people ahead of Mark on the list.  He packed his bag, we waited for the call to head down (or not) and prayed that this would be his perfect match.

So determined and brave!  
It was a strange few hours - a middle place like nothing we'd experienced in this time of waiting.  I couldn't help but think of the donor and their family, their grief and sadness, wondering what happened.  Brave enough to press forward in donating their loved one's organs in the midst of their overwhelming loss. A stark contrast with my own building excitement and ultimate hope, tasting a bit of the gratitude and relief we'd all feel if this was it.  We were also mindful of the other 2 candidates and their families feeling our same inner pleading as we all waited to know who was to be selected. My mind and heart left the station thinking of all this could ultimately mean for our lives...possibilities opening up again, dreams pursued, freedom to travel again, health, relief, fears subsiding, walking the girls down the aisle, growing old together.  I didn't hold it back and when the call came that the heart went to one of the others, it was a long, hard fall back to reality.  It stung and I'm struggling to claw my way back to equilibrium.

In my disappointment and sadness, it has helped to pray for the person who did receive the heart a week ago today.  I think of him/her everyday, letting my feelings of happiness, relief and joy for them do battle against my despair.  Though anonymously, we join their ranks of support and love offered up for recovery, restoration, no rejection and the 2nd chance at life.  Please let this be us someday!

Mark's resilience and resolve truly set the pace for our family - enough crying already!  Onward!

He booked a one-way ticket today for FL and he and Rico will head down on November 4th.  If you need a winter getaway, go down and hang out as he waits - free lodging and the beach!  Thank you to all who have been on this journey with us - your love and encouragement sure helps! As my best friend moves away, I'd love time with you!


  1. Jami, my friend! How beautifully worded....and how HEARTFELT!!! Jesus, please let it be Mark's turn soon!!!!

  2. You and Mark are truly amazing and inspirational people! I am so humbled by the support you provide/provided to me through my battle, while you are going through your own. Your positive attitudes and grateful spirits are contagious and also give strength to those around you! Love you! Carrie