Skip to content

A Donor’s Heart Saved My Life

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Lifeline of Ohio spoke with heart recipient Dave Hunt, 48, about his transplant miracle five years ago and the depth of gratitude he has for his donor. Dave’s heart-filled story, in his own words follows.

Dave and wife Michelle travel to California after his heart transplant.

Opening my own wine bar/bistro in Columbus, Ohio was my lifelong dream. As an entrepreneur, I put a lot of love and hard work into making that dream come true.  I cut the ribbon on my bistro in January, 2007 and was excited for this new business venture. On just the third day we were open, I noticed I had developed a cough. Not wanting it to worsen, I went in for what I thought would be a brief visit to a doctor for some medication, but it turned into a devastating diagnosis. My heart was failing.

Doctors at The Ohio State University Medical Center found my heart working at only 10 percent of its normal capacity. The only reason the hole in my heart hadn’t killed me was because the opening created a seal against my chest wall. The doctors immediately implanted an artificial heart pump to keep me alive. Unfortunately, the heart pump failed and I was hurriedly placed on the national transplant waiting list to receive a new heart. I was in the hospital and failing fast.

After only five days on the waiting list, on January 3, 2008, a miracle happened. My surgeon peeked through the curtain in the hospital room where I was waiting and announced with a big smile that we had a date for that afternoon. I would receive the heart I so desperately needed to survive. He jokingly said it was such a good heart that he was thinking of keeping it all for himself. I cannot begin to describe the depth of my love and gratitude to my donor for their ultimate gesture of kindness and generosity. There are no words. I hope and pray my donor family takes comfort in the fact that their loved one is a hero –he saved my life.

Dave and Michelle Hunt got married over the Christmas holiday, 2012

My new heart has allowed me an unbelievable full, healthy recovery. If the heart truly is the catalyst of love, than my new heart delivered through a new love.  Thanks to my transplant, I have experienced love with a wonderful woman named Michelle, who I met when she was a nurse on the intensive care floor my recovery took place. We got married on December 23, 2012, have four daughters between us and are truly blessed to be beginning a new life with our new family.

February is a time to reflect on love’s impact on our individual lives and serves as a reminder to open our hearts to love. My heart is full of love for so many reasons – a love for my donor, a love for my gift, a love for my new wife and our family and a true love of life.

My hero, my organ donor, gave me the chance to live and love again. Share your love with others waiting for a second chance by registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor at

Find other posts