By Zack Little, heart recipient

Why I Dash

IMG_2220As a result of my heart transplant in December 2014, I am feeling stronger each day and want to honor my donor, Nathan, and his family, for my amazing second chance.

The Dash for Donation experience of meeting donor families and being part of such a worthy cause are two of the many reasons our family continues to support this event and spread the word about donation. We look forward to being in the sea of green…but life wasn’t always this grand.

My Story

Since my early 20s I have been an Arby’s franchisee in Grove City, Ohio – I enjoy the fast pace and daily challenges of the environment. I was also an avid tennis player, motorcyclist, car enthusiast and private airplane pilot. I worked and played hard and appreciated my life immensely.

Then, in the spring of 1994, I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at age 37. Medications allowed me to resume a fairly normal and active lifestyle. However, I was told that I would eventually need a heart transplant.

Zack and his wife Patti

Zack and his wife Patti

In 2007, my health took a turn. I was told I would need a pacemaker with a defibrillator, in essence “an expensive life insurance policy.” It was tough to face that my heart was getting worse – doctors reminded me that I would need a new heart. The pacemaker wasn’t a solution, but a temporary fix.

Fast forward to March 19, 2010. After three serious episodes with my defibrillator, I was told that I was in end-stage heart failure and would not be leaving the hospital without a heart transplant or a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). I was listed for a transplant and my life was on hold.

On December 9, 2014, after a long journey on the national transplant wait list, the call finally came! I was confused at first, then shocked since it had been such a long wait.

Someone was missing Arby's food

Someone was missing Arby’s

Two months after my transplant I received a letter from my donor’s family. They expressed their feelings of relief and happiness that the transplant was a success and to tell us about their son, Nathan. I responded to their letter and attempted to communicate my gratitude for this Gift of Life.

I am now six months post-transplant and have been blessed with amazing health and success. My family and I are beginning a new chapter and are forever grateful to Nathan and his family. We look forward to participating in the Dash as “The Little Runners” and encouraging everyone we meet to register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor!