David Waits was not able to attend an event Monday at Highland District Hospital to honor local transplant patients, their families and donor families as they carried the Transplant Games of America torch through Hillsboro in celebration of the June 10-15 games. But some say the fact that he was even scheduled to make the appearance is a miracle.
In February, Waits, a 50-year-old construction worker from Hillsboro, became the first patient to receive a new heart in Cincinnati since 2008 under the restarted transplant program at UC Health. He had been at UC Medical Center awaiting a transplant since early October 2015.
Waits’ doctors say that a massive heart attack in December 2014 could have ended his life, but a cardiac surgeon consulted with the UC Health cardiac surgery team, placed Waits on temporary life support, and arrangements were made for him to be transported to UC Medical Center, a news release from UC Health News said.
Once at UC Medical Center, Waits was implanted with a left ventricular assist device to support his heart function. He’s been under the care of UC Health advanced heart failure therapy cardiologists since that time.
“Heart disease is in my family,” Waits said, according to the news release. “I’m a third generation heart disease patient. I’m lucky to be alive. Everyone tells me I’m a miracle. I shouldn’t be here. I guess God and my doctors at UC Medical Center thought differently. They fought hard for me. It’s going to be a lifelong journey, but I’m in it for the long haul.”
Waits’ wife, Carol, told UC Health News in February that it was amazing to see her husband up and walking just two weeks after he struggled to even get out of bed.
“We are truly blessed. The last 14 months have been hard,” Carol Waits told UC Health. “But when I look back at December 2014 – when I would thank God every night for giving me just one more day with David – I am overwhelmed with emotions…. It was an amazing sight to see everyone clapping for him when he took his first steps after surgery. People came from all over this hospital to show their support. Everyone at UC Medical Center is family to us.”
David Waits was not able to attend Monday’s event because he was back in the hospital for treatment, said Andi O’Malley, director of public affairs for the LifeCenter Organ Donor Network, who added that a trip back to the hospital is not unusual for a heart transplant patient.
The LifeCenter Organ Donor Network is partnering with Highland District Hospital, Clinton Memorial Hospital and local BMVs to honor local transplant patients and donor families and promote the Transplant Games of America (TGA).
As the TGA torch travels across the state of Ohio, it will celebrate and promote the message of organ and tissue donation as well as the spirit of the games. The TGA will be held in Cleveland on June 10-15. The Olympic style competition is open to anyone ages 3-85 who has received a lifesaving organ transplant, including heart, liver, kidney, pancreas and lung. Participants compete by age group and by recipients and living donors. Medal competitions are also held for tissue and cornea recipients and living donors. There’s also a special Youth Olympiad for younger transplant recipients.
The torch also visited the Hillsboro BMV on Monday.
According to the LifeCenter:
• One organ donor can save up to eight people by the donation of their heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and small intestine.
• One tissue donor can save and heal the lives of more than 50 people through the donation of bone, heart valves, corneas, veins and vessels, tendons/ligaments, and skin.
• In Ohio, more than 3,300 people – nearly 600 in Greater Cincinnati – are waiting for an organ transplant at any time, and hundreds more wait tissue transplants.
• In 2015, 600 Ohioans shared the gift of life through organ donation; 248 of them were living donors.
Anyone interested in joining Team Ohio or learning more about the Transplant Games can visit lifepassiton.org.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.