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Recipient Stories

Singing from the Heart

ABOVE: Bob sings to fellow heart patients at the Ross Heart Hospital’s annual ‘Heart Party’

I have been singing all my life. As a child I used to run and up and down the streets of my neighborhood yelling and singing. Even while working full-time as a truck driver, I found time to sing in a band and become an Elvis impersonator! I’ve always loved it and continued to sing, even when faced with a life-threatening illness.

In September of 1994 I started to have health problems. I would wake up unable to breathe and didn’t know what was wrong. I learned that I had cardiomyopathy, a serious heart condition.

A few short weeks later, I was told my working days were over at the age of 49.

Over the next 10 years my condition worsened. In 2004 I had a heart valve transplant to help me survive but by 2005 I couldn’t be treated anymore. It was a shock to me to learn that my heart was only operating at about 15 percent capacity. I was told a heart transplant was the only cure for my disease.

Despite my declining health, I continued to sing. I would run out of wind so I picked songs that were easier on me, but I kept singing.

I went to the Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University on Nov. 15, 2006 to have some work done to become stable enough for a transplant. By this point I was so weak I could barely walk across the room or catch my breath. While I was in the hospital, I was approved and added to the National Transplant Waiting List. I expected to return home to wait for a heart, but the next evening I was told that a heart was available for me.

I sang that day as I was being prepped for the transplant.

From the time I woke up from my surgery I felt like a million dollars! I could breathe again. I left the hospital a week later and now I feel like I can do anything.

Thanks to my donor I’ve been able to see my six grandkids grow up. I’m active and get to enjoy golfing, and cutting my own wood at my home in Hocking Hills. I’ve also been able to continue with my passion of singing.

My wife, Fran, and I travel all over southern Ohio singing at different churches and often visiting nursing homes. I also love to sing for my fellow heart patients every year around Valentine’s Day at the Ross Heart Hospital’s heart party. It’s a great celebration of life!

Fran and I have both written to my donor’s family to express our gratitude for this incredible gift. It’s overwhelming to know that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.

I’m a registered donor and I hope everyone else will take the steps to sign up too. Until then, I’ll keep singing, hoping to inspire others to make that decision to Donate Life.

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