Tag Archives: Heart Transplant

Touched by Transplant: Organ Donation Allows You to Leave a Unique Legacy

Patrick McEntee is waiting for a lifesaving heart transplant and is fundraising for transplant-related expenses via the Help Hope Live Great Lakes Heart Transplant Fund. Pat is one of four winners of our 2017 Touched by Transplant “New Life” Contest in honor of April’s Donate Life Month.

Touched by Transplant 2017 Help Hope Live


“In 2003, I began a new career as a high school religion teacher. I was paired with a mentor to help me adjust and learn: Bill Westerman, who, some years earlier, went from selling insurance to teaching the Catholic faith to high school students.

From the beginning, I was inspired by Bill, his passion for teaching, and his faith in God. Little by little, I came to know Bill’s story. In addition to having survived polio as a child, he also survived a heart transplant a few years prior to my meeting with him. His life was not without complications, but he continued to give every ounce of fight he had in him to remain a teacher and remind students, at the end of every class, “Don’t be stupid. And always remember: Mr. Westerman loves you.”

I have been a registered organ donor since I got my driver’s license at 16, but my reasoning for it has evolved in the 26 years since. At first, I simply registered because it seemed like the right thing to do. When I met Bill, my views on the subject of organ, eye, and tissue donation changed drastically.

Pat McEntee

Pat’s reasoning for being an organ donor “changed drastically” after meeting Bill

Bill was a tremendous inspiration and example to me. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I would never have met him if it weren’t for the selfless act of another who chose to be an organ donor. Bill took that person’s selfless gift very seriously. He lived every day to prove that his donor’s gift was being appreciated. He wanted to be a good steward of the gift of life.

I started to see the impact one person could have. Bill is one of just eight people who could have been saved by a single donor. Imagine the other stories that could be shared that are only possible because of one person’s choice!

Bill’s donor, and all organ donors, found a unique way to leave a great legacy, a legacy that would last much longer than their earthly lives. That donor didn’t just impact Bill; he impacted Bill’s family, friends, and people who had yet to BECOME Bill’s family and friends, including his future grandchildren.

Bill taught me a lot about being an effective teacher, but he taught me much more about life and being grateful for the gift of extra time on Earth given through the generosity of a stranger. Often in my life, I recognize God’s presence after the fact. Though I never expected to venture down the same road (as Bill), congenital heart conditions led to me being listed for transplant and receiving an implanted left ventricular assist device (LVAD).

June 5 is Pat’s 1,000th day on the transplant waiting list

Today is my 1,000th day on the heart transplant waiting list. Fortunately, I have the important lessons taught to me by my friend, Bill. I am so grateful for the last two and a half years, which would not have been possible without my LVAD. I have tried to make as much of a positive impact as possible with the extra time that I have been given, a lesson I learned from Bill. Volunteering in my community, particularly with organizations that promote organ, eye, and tissue donation, has given me the opportunity to share my story and to hear the stories of so many others who have been touched by transplant.

Today, both Bill and his donor are gone from this world, but their impact is still being felt many years later. They have left a legacy that not many can claim.

My donor is out there somewhere. I pray for my donor often, though I have no idea who he or she is. I ask all those who pray for me while I wait to pray for my donor too. Without a doubt, the hardest part of the transplant process is knowing that someone will have to die for me to have a chance at a longer and healthier life.

I remind myself that my donor is giving me a gift, and my gratitude for that gift will be shown in the way I use it to make a positive impact on the world. That’s the way Bill did it, and because he did, his organ donor adds a second generation to the impact of his legacy.”


Touched by Transplant 2017 Help Hope LiveThank you, Pat, for your reflections. If this story has impacted your perspective, read more of his story or sign his Guestbook at: https://helphopelive.org/campaign/8748

 

Touched by Transplant: Healing Inside and Out After a Transplant

In December 2014, Linda Jara was fighting off what she thought was a seasonal flu. After several visits with her doctor, Linda was diagnosed with heart failure. Medication couldn’t correct the issue, and as her condition declined, she received a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) as a bridge to a lifesaving heart transplant. In 2016, she finally got “the call” she had been waiting for.


I went from living a normal life to being in end-stage (advanced) heart failure within a month. This is how I was Touched by Transplant.

Touched by Transplant 2017 Help Hope Live


The Wait…and the Call


I waited for a heart for 18 months, from March 2015 to September 2016. My daily routine with an LVAD during that time: wake up; unplug from the wall unit; plug into the battery unit; record my numbers; take my morning medications; have breakfast; work out; shower and change my bandages every other day or use wipes; get dressed; go to work; come home; relax; go to bed; plug into the wall unit.

Linda waited for a heart for 18 months

The best way to describe waiting for a heart transplant is being on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is a momentary pang of anxiety every time the phone rings. You have no idea when the call will come. However, it can’t stop you from living your life. It is best to still make plans and live for the moment. You have to trust the process and know that waiting is part of making sure you will receive the best possible heart for you.

Linda Jara Help Hope Live

Linda explains LVADs to friends and supporters on social media

I had two false-alarm calls prior to “the one.” When I realized that call was THE call, it was surreal. I knew the minute I answered the phone that this call was different. This time around, the process from the phone call to surgery was a blur that happened within four hours. My emotions were mixed: I was happy, excited, sad, laughing, crying–you name it. My parents and a few close friends stayed with me until surgery started. That helped with the pre-transplant “will I survive?” anxiety.


Healing, Inside and Out


I was in the hospital for 23 days post-transplant. What I learned? Open heart surgery hurts. After the procedure, it hurts to lay in bed, to stand up, to cough, sneeze–you name it. This pain also affected post-surgery physical therapy, which became difficult because of fluid build-up in my body. But it’s essential to get in as much physical therapy after surgery as possible to heal well. That being said, I never looked forward to the therapist arriving!

Linda Jara Help Hope Live

Linda shows off her post-transplant scar

The most significant physical changes have been scars and scar tissue. Being just 6 months out from transplant, I have yet to feel great. I still tire easily, and I have to work on building up my endurance. Fortunately, I was sick for a very short time before I got my transplant, so I can still do most of the things I could do before the transplant.

Physically, I am enjoying life without being tethered to an LVAD. Freedom! I am working on improving my upper body strength and endurance so I can do even more. Emotionally, however, post-transplant life can be isolating. I have a few transplant friends who I can rely on to help me through the bad days. Despite how empathetic friends try to be, no one except other heart transplant recipients can understand the emotional challenges. There is a deep level of symbolism attached to the heart.

Linda Jara Help Hope Live

Linda uses her Help Hope Live campaign page to keep supporters updated

One of the biggest misconceptions about having a transplant is that your body is exactly as it used to be after you receive the new organ. Qualifying for a heart transplant was great, but it still isn’t as great as having your native heart. A new heart induces a significant adjustment period. I discovered how friends and family react to a medical crisis firsthand, and I identified people who could be a continued source of support. It was great knowing that there are at least some constants when your life is turned completely upside-down.

Linda Jara Help Hope Live

Friends provide ongoing support with a custom hashtag


Finding Support


I have the opportunity to discuss my emotional challenges with a transplant psychologist. Between her, my heart transplant friends and other members of my community, I am managing the best I can. Some days are difficult, but I have survived 100 percent of my worst days! As Emile Coue said, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.”

Linda Jara Help Hope Live

“Despite your empathy, you will never understand.”

The best thing to do for a loved one waiting for a transplant is to be supportive and understanding. What we are experiencing is something that, despite your empathy, you will never understand. People need to be mindful and make an effort to read our moods, but that doesn’t mean they have to walk on eggshells around us. Claiming that your cold or backache is “the worst thing in the world” sounds callous to someone waiting for a lifesaving (heart) transplant, especially because a heart transplant is one of the most complicated procedures out there.


Maintaining a New Heart


The transplant was not a cure. I have other medical conditions now that are not as serious as heart failure but are still significant. I developed prednisone-induced diabetes from post-transplant medications, but that condition should improve as my prednisone level decreases.

Linda Jara Help Hope Live

A transplant requires lifelong maintenance

In terms of maintenance, I need to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of my life as well as multiple other medications and supplements. I take 45 pills per day. I check my weight, temperature and blood pressure twice every day, and I check my blood sugar four times every day. It is my responsibility to notify my team if I am feeling off, notice a 2-pound weight gain, have a temperature of 99.5 degrees or higher or a blood pressure reading higher than 150/90. I have monthly right heart catheterizations and biopsies to check for rejection.

Exercise and a healthy lifestyle are also important. I take yoga classes and attend cardiac rehabilitation. I will be joining a cardiac rehab gym when this period of rehab is over.

Linda Jara Help Hope Live

“I take yoga classes and attend cardiac rehabilitation”


The Financial Side of Transplantation


I continue to fundraise with Help Hope Live post-transplant. I am on disability and fundraising helps to offset my monthly (out-of-pocket) medical expenses. Funds raised also helped to cover some of my mortgage payments when I was not receiving any income. A transplant is for life, and there will always be costs attached to this new lifestyle.

Help Hope Live helped me to get my fundraising efforts off the ground. The staff members that I have been fortune enough to meet are warm and make you feel like family. I remember laying in the hospital when the idea of fundraising was first presented to me. I was given the numbers for the cost of a transplant before insurance. The meds alone were over $60k (per year). I believe it is important to continue to fundraise so I won’t have to worry if unforeseen medical expenses pop up in the future.

Linda Jara Help Hope Live

Linda has no plans to stop fundraising post-transplant


A Lifelong Advocate


As a heart transplant recipient, I think it’s important to encourage people to register as organ donors. It would be difficult for someone to find a reason NOT to agree to donate if they were in the position to directly impact the life of someone they knew personally. It’s also hard to explain your choice not to be an organ donor to a living recipient like me!

Touched by Transplant 2017 Help Hope LiveLinda fundraises for the Help Hope Live Mid-Atlantic Heart Transplant Fund. Follow her Blog for updates. Need help covering pre- or post-transplant expenses? Learn about starting a fundraising campaign with our nonprofit.

Voices of Hope: 5 Things We Learned While Waiting for a Transplant

Allen “Monty” Scott is living with end-stage congestive heart failure. He needs a heart-kidney transplant to live a healthy life. Monty’s wife, Nicole, and his children, Marquise and Talia, have been steadfast sources of support for their father as he’s faced medication changes, hospitalizations, rigorous physical therapy and ongoing health challenges.

You learn to take the good, the bad and the ugly on a journey like this,” wrote Nicole, “but when you wake up the next morning, it’s a brand new day!” Here, Monty and his family members explain what else they’ve learned on the road to transplant.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

Monty, left, with his wife and two children


Your family can be a guiding light while you are waiting for a transplant.


Monty: My family has made this journey easier because I don’t have to experience it alone.

Nicole: We have all been actively involved since his diagnosis 10 years ago. We are a strong support system for him, and our community, church and friends have all been very supportive as well. Enjoy every moment of family time, because it is truly a gift. We are tightly knit and that’s the best part.

Marquise: We give him vitality – reason and motivation to keep moving forward. We make the journey easier for him and do things for him that he might not be able to do for himself right now. In addition to the fundraising, our family and community also raise awareness for heart disease.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

Monty and family attended the 2016 Heart Walk to raise awareness

No matter what challenges you encounter, try to live your life the best you can to leave a good example for your kids. Be there for your kids 110% so your kids will be there for you 110%. Life is good, and it’s about choices. The choice we make about my dad’s condition is to be there with him every step of the way. My dad and I have a great relationship based on trust, love, teaching and admiration. It is awe-inspiring. It’s a relationship I would like to photocopy and build on with my own kids one day.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

“My family has made this journey easier because I don’t have to experience it alone.”

Talia: Whenever we go to the hospital, we always ask questions about how to care for him. We learn about his condition and the medical equipment he needs and we try to absorb it all. You need patience in order to be a father figure for someone. He is always there for us and we can joke around with each other. He always has a bright smile, and I love him. I love the overwhelming amount of strength we have for one another as a family.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

Monty’s family supports him during his transplant preparations


The out-of-pocket expenses will surprise you.


Nicole: During a change in our insurance, medications were running low and running out, and we ended up paying out of pocket for some of those costs. Without the meds, Monty’s health declines quickly and his levels are off, which may require an ER visit or even a trip to Tufts to fix.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

Home health care is among the out-of-pocket costs Monty faces daily

Talia: Our hospital at Tufts is two hours away from where we live, so in addition to fundraising for things that come up unexpectedly, we also fundraise for trips back and forth to the hospital.

Monty: I realized how expensive this journey can be when my insurance was in transition and we were responsible for those additional out-of-pocket costs. Fundraising with HelpHOPELive is fantastic! It helps to bring awareness to my condition while spreading awareness of how HelpHOPELive can help other people.


Staying positive is possible, but it’s not easy.


Monty: It is a blessing to be on the list, but if your wait is long it can weigh heavily on your mind. Stay strong mentally, because you would be surprised how much your mental state can affect your health. I try to keep it all in perspective.

Nicole: When you are actively involved but you can’t do anything to fix it, you feel helpless sometimes. Organ donation can be a difficult decision for some, so there is a limited availability of organs, making the wait long. Sometimes listed patients don’t make it through the wait. It can become depressing, but there are a lot of resources out there that can help; fundraise with HelpHOPELive! The support system around you helps to alleviate some of the burden.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

“Fundraise with HelpHOPELive!” advises Monty’s wife

Marquise: Dealing with a chronic health condition makes your family mature faster, especially the kids. It’s painful. I never can do enough, I feel. It’s even more challenging because it is my father’s heart, the motor of his body. After an egg is fertilized it’s only about a week until that heart starts to beat. It’s scary because you don’t know when or if you are going to get a new heart, whether or not your body will reject that heart and a multitude of other serious concerns.

Talia: You get a little impatient when waiting for a heart because waiting for an organ is not like walking into a store and just buying something off the shelf. There is pain and it hurts and you want to be able to help and you can only do so much. We all deal with the challenges in a way where it doesn’t take so much of a toll on us. You have to try to distract yourself and keep thinking about the good stuff in life.


Rallying your community can provide financial and emotional support.


Monty: Many people have supported me, whether it be through fundraising or just words of encouragement. Parents at my daughter’s school have put together fundraisers and so have my college friends. Our local newspaper kindly wrote my story and it headlined in the paper the next day, drawing awareness to my condition and HelpHOPELive. There are other efforts in progress as well so my community has most definitely shown an outpouring of support.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

The “Lend A Hand For A Heart” fundraiser in honor of Monty

Nicole: At first, when it came to fundraising, I thought, “I don’t want to feel as though we have our hands out.” As we advanced through the process and came across the difficulties and the constant cost of the littlest things adding up, we started thinking rationally. That rational thought is, you just cannot do this alone.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

Monty’s fellow high school alumni support his fundraising efforts

After putting your pride aside, you see the angels that God has put on Earth to help. They come in the form of family, friends, associates, neighbors and strangers. You just can’t see them when you are too proud to accept their help. I like the way that HelpHOPELive is managed, and it legitimizes fundraising for medical causes like Monty’s.

We fundraise in Monty’s honor and we have a small fundraising team that formed because others wanted to lend a hand. They have taken the reins and have planned fundraisers on their own to support Monty. We live in a beautiful small town where everybody knows everybody. Many have raised generations of families here in Newport (add city). Our church is supporting Monty and other churches are signing on as well. They all want to help.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

A “Comedy Night” fundraiser brought Monty’s community together

Marquise: HelpHOPELive simplifies the fundraising process and puts it on a level that is more understandable and that makes it easier for contributors to donate.

Talia: Fundraising with HelpHOPELive helps us to take care of things and keep things organized. It allows us to go through this journey without mounting expenses.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

“HelpHOPELive…allows us to go through this journey without mounting expenses.”


Transplants change lives.


Monty: To me, a transplant means an opportunity to go back to normal.

Talia: A transplant means not having to say, “Wait, Dad, do you have the extra batteries!?” Also, not having to see my dad bogged down with all this equipment connected to him so he can be more mobile on his own. It’ll be a good chance and a happy one for my dad. I want to let the donor and their family know that they are giving a gift that only they, God and the medical teams can give. Thank you for giving my dad a second chance at life.

Nicole: After transplant there will continue to be more big changes to our lives. We will find out what our new normal will be as a family, which will be one challenge. How involved we will or will not be with the donor family might be a challenge as well.  I send an entire world of thanks and gratitude to our future donor and donor family. Yours is a gift that there are no words for and thank you just doesn’t say enough. God bless you.

Monty Scott HelpHOPELive

“A transplant means an opportunity to go back to normal.”


Support Monty and his family as he waits for a lifesaving transplant at helphopelive.org. You can start a fundraiser with our nonprofit in honor of someone you know who is waiting for a transplant of any kind. Donations are tax deductible. Learn more on our website

Voices of Hope: “There Is Always Someone To Lean On”

Husband and father Martin Vece has served the community for decades as a performer and teacher. We asked Marty how his wife and three daughters help him to cope with the emotional, physical and financial challenges of life on the transplant waiting list.

Martin Vece HelpHOPELive heart transplant

Marty with his family at UCLA


In November of 2014, I was informed by my doctors at UCLA that I would need a heart transplant. Because of an impending lung issue, I would first have to go through open heart surgery for an LVAD. In December of 2014, I had to immediately relocate my entire family from Las Vegas to Los Angeles as I recovered from the procedure. I knew in that moment that we were in some incredibly deep financial trouble.

I had to remain in Los Angeles for a minimum of sixth months after the LVAD surgery. My doctors required me to have a caretaker for that entire period. We asked several members of our family to stay with me in LA, but everyone we asked was not able to do it. There was no choice but for my wife and kids to come with me.

Martin Vece HelpHOPELive heart transplant

Marty begins walking after the LVAD surgery

When I was in the hospital getting the LVAD surgery, it was my wife who, over a period of three days, packed up all our things, rented a U-Haul truck, found housing for us in LA, took our girls out of school and registered them in LA, and found people to help her move everything we needed into an apartment. She truly was Superwoman. We were finally able to move back to Las Vegas in June of 2015.

Because Las Vegas does not have its own transplant facility, when I get ‘the call’ for a heart transplant, I will have to go on a leave of absence from work and relocate to Los Angeles again to be near UCLA for roughly six months while I recover from the surgery. I am currently fundraising to cover my medical and related expenses, including uninsured doctor’s bills and medication costs that come in monthly. With HelpHOPELive fundraising helping me to pay for medical and related costs, it frees up money to help with general bills and cost-of-living expenses so I can take care of my wife and family.

Martin Vece HelpHOPELive heart transplant

An update on Marty’s HelpHOPELive page explains financial burdens

Chronic health issues have created multiple challenges for me and my family. The stress has been ridiculous as I cope with my health issues and my wife tries to raise three young girls and support me at the same time. The financial stress of my illness has been significant. It’s continuous, because even after the transplant my uninsured medical expenses will continue to stack up. I will have to continue to fundraise for my entire life.

With a little bit of my energy and time, I coordinate all of my fundraising activities on my own. My wife is busy taking care of the girls, taking care of me and running the household. It can be surprising when extended family members and friends don’t step up to help with fundraising. Since my heart issues have taken a turn for the worse, I have learned a lot about who in your life really sticks by you through the tough times and who abandons you.

HelpHOPELive has been a godsend. Before I started working with HelpHOPELive, I didn’t have a clue about how to conduct grassroots fundraising. I have become educated very quickly with the guidance I have received from HelpHOPELive. It really helps that the organization allows me to fundraise through a 501(c)(3). It gives your illness some credibility: HelpHOPELive verifies medical need, and I think people feel a little safer donating money with assurance that the cause is legitimate.

Martin Vece HelpHOPELive heart transplant

HelpHOPELive lends credibility to Marty’s fundraising efforts

I find it to be a great challenge to remain positive while on the transplant waiting list. For some of us, it is a really long wait, and it becomes challenging when you are dealing with medical issues day in and day out. I honestly don’t know where I would be without my family. They keep me grounded and focused on living for each and every day. But it has not been easy. I seem to weave in and out of periodic states of depression. During those times, I just keep saying to myself that I’m lucky to be alive. Without modern technology, I would have been gone a long time ago. I try to look at what I have and what I am grateful for, not what I’m missing. Positive thinking is crucial to get you through those dark periods.

My family members, close friends and co-workers provide a strong emotional support system for me. My relationship with my wife and three daughters is incredible. They have played a tremendous role in my health journey in that they have been there with me every step of the way. I don’t know if I could get through each day dealing with all of my medical issues without them at my side.

My two oldest daughters are nine and eight years old, and they understand my medical condition and limitations very well. They help me with little things like bending over and picking things up for me, helping me carry things, or getting something for me because I’m out of breath. These little acts of assistance help me physically get through each day. My girls are great because they know that I can’t play soccer with them, roughhouse, or do anything else on that physical level, so instead, we take advantage of other ways to spend quality time together. We do homework together, play board games, watch TV and go for slow walks together.

Martin Vece HelpHOPELive heart transplant

Marty’s wife and daughters are a strong source of support

The best part about my family is our love for each other. We all support one another. No matter what is going on, there is always someone to lean on. My advice to a new father is, don’t think you can be selfish. To be a good father, you have to be willing to make sacrifices for your children. When I was little, my mother used to say, “I go without so you can have [what you need]. I would take the food out of my own mouth to put it in yours.” My mother had a great impact on me and now that I am a father, I truly understand what she meant.

After transplant, I look forward to getting out of the house. I want to run and run and run and run. I can’t wait to do physical activities again. I want to play sports and do musical theater and chase my kids around for hours. I want to go into the ocean and splash around with my family. I want to take dance classes with my girls. My girls and my family are my world. It’s hard to imagine, now, that I had a life before they arrived.

Martin Vece HelpHOPELive heart transplant

Marty wants to run, play sports and chase his kids around after transplant


Learn more about Marty and his family or donate in his honor at helphopelive.org. Help us celebrate strong fathers this month! Do you know a father who is living with a challenging chronic health condition? Submit his name to HelpHOPELive and he could be featured in our next Blog post!

Voices Of Hope: It’s Been One Year Since My Heart Transplant

Avid cyclist Bill Soloway was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the 1990s. The debilitating effects of the condition forced him to cut back on his favorite hobbies and his career as a skilled craftsman. Exactly one year ago, Bill received a lifesaving heart transplant. Here are Bill’s thoughts on fundraising with HelpHOPELive and finding your new normal after transplant.

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill got a heart transplant one year ago today


How is your relationship with your family?


I have a very supportive fiancée, Kathy; my 86-year-old father, John; and my 23-year-old daughter, Amanda. They have been with me every step of the way. I am also very blessed to be surrounded by many close friends with whom I have ridden my bicycle over the years. I consider them my second family.

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill says family and friends support him “every step of the way”


How has your family played a role in your health journey?


Kathy has done most of the heavy lifting along with my cycling friends. They accompanied me to my medical appointments and made sure I had everything that I needed. They would stop over and spend time with me. My father lives over an hour away so we video chatted a lot when I was in the hospital, and Amanda would tag along when she could to offer support.

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill’s fiancee and friends have “done most of the heavy lifting”


Is your community helping you to fundraise?


A very close friend of mine, Dennis Brown, along with a handful of other friends lead the charge when it comes to fundraising. I am currently fundraising for the costly medications and other post-transplant medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance.

I have had two successful fundraisers so far: Spin For Soloway, a spin-a-thon held at a gym in which I am an indoor cycling instructor; and Pizza For A Purpose, held at a favorite local restaurant where a percentage of food sales were donated to my campaign.

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How do you feel about fundraising with HelpHOPELive?


HelpHOPELive has been very supportive in helping me achieve my fundraising goals. Everyone who I have come into contact with has taken the time to get to know me and understand my fundraising needs. They have provided fundraising ideas and marketing materials for my events, and they have also provided new ideas to help promote my cause.

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill says HelpHOPELive has helped him achieve his fundraising goals

After considering several online fundraising sites, HelpHOPELive was the only one I connected with. A coordinator spoke with me and Kathy on the phone at great length about all of the resources available and how to best use certain features on the HelpHOPELive website. I felt that my Fundraising Coordinator took a personal interest in me, and I didn’t get that with any of the other fundraising platforms that I looked into. HelpHOPELive staff have even come out to support me at one of my events since their offices are very close to my area! What an awesome surprise!


What is the biggest change to your life since your transplant?


New life, new set of rules! Dealing with medications and side effects has been a challenge, and so has being immunosuppressed. Having a new heart that is getting used to this body and allowing my body to get used to the heart is challenging as well. I will be celebrating this transplant “first birthday” with my family and all my friends with a big barbecue!

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill says his life post-transplant comes with a “new set of rules”


Is it challenging to manage a chronic health condition while being a father?


I think it’s a challenge to manage a chronic health condition or transplant, period! Being a father just adds more stress because you have to worry about more than just yourself.


What’s the best part about being a dad?


The best part is watching your kids grow up and sharing life experiences with them. You get to share in their successes and their struggles. They grow up quick! My advice to new dads is to take lots of pictures and spend lots of time doing things you like to do together as they grow up or you’ll have no memories to talk about when they get older. Plus, you’ll have a lot of good stories and adventures to tell your grandkids about their parents!

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill tells dads to “take lots of pictures” and prioritize time with kids


Check in on Bill’s life after transplant at helphopelive.org. If you want to learn more about family support and fundraising possibilities before and after a lifesaving transplant, click or tap the Follow button to get emailed when we release new Blog posts. 

Has Fundraising Helped You? You Can Pay It Forward!

Has fundraising had a positive impact on your life? You have an opportunity to give back to your community and support other families facing a medical crisis. Last week, we featured Danielle Bailey, who has helped several local families kick-start their fundraising efforts with HelpHOPELive. This week, we feature five tried-and-true ways to start making a difference today.

pay it forward


…supporting families who are going through a similar situation.


You can help families navigate through the same challenges you’ve overcome. As heart transplant recipient Rick Brittell explains, “Before I got my heart, I was so tired of being away from home and isolated. Then my social worker reached out and asked if [my wife and I] would be willing to meet with a patient at the hospital who was facing a similar situation. We began to focus on supporting others. We started a support group in the local area that was open to lung and heart transplant candidates and recipients, caregivers and people who were grieving.”

HelpHOPELive Pay It Forward

You can be a vital source of support for another family.

Rick notes that this kind of support can make a tangible difference in someone’s life: “The doctors have said to us, ’You don’t know how much of a difference you have made.’ They even told us that people are being released 3-4 days earlier than average now that we are there to provide support!


…referring families to HelpHOPELive for nonprofit fundraising support.


Do you know someone who needs help fundraising for medical and related expenses? Help him or her understand how HelpHOPELive can help. Point other families in need to helphopelive.org for more information. If you would like additional resources to share with others who may need our help, contact us today.

Diane Maxwell, wife of transplant recipient Mark Maxwell, explains how she helped another family find us: “I met Jude Jamieson through a woman’s retreat, where I learned that she also had a husband with a chronic illness in need of a transplant. I encouraged her to contact HelpHOPELive and start a fundraising campaign since her husband’s transplant hospital required a $5,000 account balance at minimum to list a patient for transplant. They were able to raise the funds through the summer and fall. Her husband went into acute liver failure, but less than a week later, he had a new liver thanks to their fundraising efforts. All I did was be bold enough to suggest she contact HelpHOPELive. You guys did the rest, right on time.”

HelpHOPELive Pay It Forward

Diane referred Kevin and family to HelpHOPELive for fundraising help


…supporting HelpHOPELive’s mission.


Every donation to our nonprofit helps families across the country receive tangible and compassionate fundraising support. You know firsthand how important that support can be when a medical crisis strikes. Become a monthly contributor to HelpHOPELive today and begin paying it forward to families who need our help to combat the high cost of medical and related care.

HelpHOPELive Pay It Forward

Want to see the true impact of your gift? Keep up with stories of hope on our Blog and on our website, or get a handpicked selection of tips and stories in your inbox every month!


…using your next fundraiser to serve the community.


As Heidi Anderson, mother of 2-year-old transplant recipient Deanna, explains, “Deanna lived in the hospital for more than three months before her transplant. We were visited by many people during that time, including volunteers who would bring her toys and gifts. It truly touched my heart. I see so many children at the hospital now who really need a smile.” Heidi knew a fundraiser in honor of Deanna could provide a way to give back, so she “decided to collect toys for kids at the hospital through a toy drive as part of one of Deanna’s Valentine’s Day HelpHOPELive fundraisers.”

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The toy collection was a huge success, says Heidi: “So many people brought toys! It made me incredibly happy! We are still collecting today.


…donating in honor of a particular family.


After getting her own fundraising campaign rolling, LAM fighter and transplant candidate Nicole Seefeldt found a way to pay it forward. “I met Alyssa Mebs while I was getting my transplant evaluation,” says Nicole. “We just started talking one night and we became fast friends. Once I saw that Alyssa was fundraising for a transplant, I thought, what can I do to help her? I knew I was going to meet my first fundraising goal…so I donated what I had to give in her honor.”

HelpHOPELive Pay It Forward

Nicole, left, made a donation to HelpHOPELive in honor of Alyssa

Today, when Nicole asks for donations or donates to a fellow HelpHOPELive client, she keeps this advice in mind: “It’s not the dollar amount you give, it’s that you give at all. Not everybody has a lot of money, but since it’s tax-deductible, every penny is something that they can use that compounds the effect. I never want to put an amount that people have to give. I just encourage them to give what they can.”


You don’t have to have it all to give back.


As Heidi Anderson explains, “Giving back is something we should all consider. Whether you do it with a toy drive or something else, paying it forward is about giving love and kindness to others who need it most.”

Today, consider how you can give back to the community that has given you so much. If you have a great idea for giving back, contact us and we may feature your campaign in an upcoming Blog post!

Touched By Transplant: When I Met My Heart Donor’s Family

John “Skeeter” Coleman received a heart transplant in February 2016. Here’s what happened when he sought out the family of the man who donated his heart.

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As soon as I was well enough after my heart transplant, I went to visit my donor’s family. It was the biggest emotional rush I have ever had in my life aside from the birth of my children.

Skeeter listens to his new heart

Skeeter listens to his new heart

Hospitals typically do not allow direct contact between donor families and recipients for a period of time after a transplant. I mailed a letter to my donor’s family through my hospital. As soon as I sent the letter, the hospital provided me with a letter the donor’s family had written back in December. This is what it said:

This is a Christmas card to you from me and my family. My husband’s name was Paul. He was a great outdoorsman who loved the landscape and loved the military. He was a great father and husband for 22 years. We loved him. I’m just hoping you can appreciate his organ, whichever one you got.

I sent a copy of the letter to my daughters and son. They got on the Internet and started researching. Sure enough, my daughter managed to find Theresa, Paul’s wife, on Facebook. She accepted our Friend Request and got to learn more about me and my HelpHOPELive campaign. That’s when I turned to my daughter and said, “Let’s go find them.” And that’s what we did.

We met Theresa and two of her three sons at the Jiffy Mart in Chester, Texas, a town of just 312 people located a 4-hour drive from our hometown of Euless. Theresa said, “Would you like to go with us to the cemetery?” I told her I would love to.

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Skeeter visits his heart donor’s grave

At the cemetery, I got down on one knee and started rubbing my hands through the dirt and talking to Paul. All these words were coming out and all these feelings. All these tears started flowing and dripping in the dirt. I don’t know how long I was there. They had to help me stand back up, because I didn’t have the strength to get up on my own.

I asked if I could take them out to lunch. At a café, Theresa introduced me to all of her friends. We had catfish, fresh vegetables, good old country cooking while we talked. We talked about those boys’ daddy and what a great man he was. Paul’s best friend was there, and we talked to him about all the people who were recipients. Two people got kidneys, one person got lungs, one person got a liver, one person got part of his spine and I got his heart.

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Skeeter with his heart donor’s wife and children

After lunch, Theresa invited me back to their house. She showed me all kinds of pictures of Paul. After a few more hours, we made the four-hour drive back to Euless. I was exhausted.

We stayed in touch after that. I’d like to get back together with them again. They have been a great encouragement and source of hope to me. I hope I can be the same for them.


touched by transplant fullNeed help fundraising for a transplant? Start a fundraising campaign today at helphopelive.org. Keep up with Skeeter on his HelpHOPELive campaign page.