After some health issues, Kevin found out he needed a heart transplant. In July 2017, he was added to the transplant waiting list.
Kevin said waiting was the hardest part of his journey.
“I prayed every day while I was on the waiting list,” Kevin said. “My condition got worse during the wait, so I was moved to status 1.”
Kevin explained that it was very frustrating not knowing when the call would come.
“It is really easy to get depressed, but you have to keep yourself from getting down.”
On November 16, 2017, he received a call from Duke. They asked him if he was interested in participating in a study called Heart in a Box – a new way of transporting hearts for transplant. During transport, the heart never stops beating, increasing the time it can be transported before transplantation. Kevin agreed to participate in the study.
He received a call shortly after he signed up to be part of the study. However, he was told that the heart would not be able to be used. It was around 8 pm, and he was told to go home.
Kevin went home, a little upset over the false alarm. However, the next day, he received another call – they had another heart available.
He was in total shock when they called him. He had the number saved in his phone, so he knew who was calling. However, he didn’t think it was about a heart being available. He was at work when they called. He was ecstatic and couldn’t believe he was getting the call.
He immediately dropped what he was doing and started the 2.5-hour drive to the hospital. On the way there, he finally realized what was happening. He made some calls, knowing that it might be the last time his loved ones heard from him.
Kevin received his heart transplant on November 17, 2017. Post-transplant, he had some complications with medication and had to stay in the hospital for 28 days.
He lost a lot of muscle in the hospital and had to learn to walk again. His recovery required him to depend heavily on others. This was difficult, as Kevin is a very independent person.
“Support groups and caregivers mean everything to you after transplant. I didn’t have a caregiver after I left the hospital, which made it a bigger challenge to recover.”
Things have gotten a lot better for Kevin, but there were bumps in the road.
“I found myself doing more and more each day,” Kevin said.
Kevin returned to work 110 days after his transplant.
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Kevin Skiles says
Vernell Williams says
Almost my story just that I was not in a study I rec a double transplant a heart and a kidney from the same donor first getting a heart then the next day the kidney I was sent home on a machine but after a week I was just getting sicker so they told me pack my bags because I would have to wait in the hospital for a donor I spent 6 months in the hospital waiting it felt like I was there for years after the 6 months I was sent to a rehab to learn how to walk again it was a struggle when I first got the news that they have a heart I was like omg the wait is over the next Day Dr came in my room and said sorry I dont want you to have this heart omg the tears was pouring I was giving up hope the next week Dr came in my room said are you ready I’m like what he said I have you a heart and kidney and to get ready for surgery wow!!!! Thank you in 015 of June I rec my transplants in 018 I have the opportunity to meet my donors family at a 5k walk that is hosted by the NJ Sharing Network Organ and Tissue donation at the time of my transplants I was 47 yrs old my donor was 27 at the time of his passing he passed away of a severe asthma attack today me and my donors family stay in touch he is a twinn he has a sister God bless all organ donors and there families.
Paul K says
I waited a year on the list while an LVAD kept me going until “the call”. The wait is certainly a time that only us recipients truly know what it feels like.
I am 5.5 yrs out.
Keep on keeping on!