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Donor Stories

Celebrating 365 Days of Life with Hearts of all Shapes and Sizes

I want my donor’s family to know that every day when I wake up, I do two things:  I thank God for another day to praise Him and ask for the strength to do what He has for me, and I ask Him to comfort my donor family as they go throughout their day.

My name is Mark Johnson, and I’m a heart recipient. On December 24, 2007, my wife and I were preparing to open Christmas presents with our four children.  We made several trips up and down the stairs before I knelt down to pick up a box with a drum set inside. I became dizzy and fell over unconscious.  After being rushed to the ER, and spending three days in a coma, doctors determined I had an irregular heartbeat due to an enlarged heart. Five years later, on February 13, 2013, I got the gift of a lifetime – a new heart was available for me. What a special way to commemorate Valentine’s Day, with a new heart and a new lease on life!

Last week, I celebrated my one-year heart transplant anniversary at OSU Ross Heart

Mark's family supported him while he waited for his life-saving transplant.

Mark’s family supported him while he waited for his life-saving transplant.

Hospital’s Valentine’s Day party for heart transplant recipients, candidates and individuals with heart assist devices. In the years before my transplant, I was so fatigued that I did not do much outside of work, and I rarely took my wife out for dinner for just the two of us. I have jokingly told my wife Lori since my transplant that going to the Ross together for my many clinic appointments are “dates,” and I treat her to breakfast in the cafeteria afterward. Visiting the Ross for the annual reunion was another perfect date opportunity with Lori, and an important chance to share my story and to hear from others whose lives are impacted by heart disorders. It was also a significant place to remember that, while I was celebrating life and love for this Valentine’s Day holiday, my donor’s family was missing their loved one. Being surrounded by other lives touched by heart transplantation only enhances my gratitude to my donor family and all the donor families who selflessly choose to give life to others in the midst of their grief and tragedy. My family and I will never forget this gift of life.

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