. . . finally made that visit to my original cardiologist, Dr. Kathy Magness and her nurse, Janet, to give them both hugs of gratitude for these 20+ years post heart transplant due to their care back then. I was under her care for two years leading up to listing for transplant when, with an ejection fraction of just 17, she said in words I can still hear clearly today, “Mr. Gleason, it’s time. You need to cease employment and go down to see the experts.” I tried to get an appointment with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania heart transplant team, but they were booked and we had to settle for one two months out. Dr. Magness took the more direct route. While attending a dinner event the next evening with them, she reviewed my case and next thing I know, we had an immediate appointment and the rest is history, as they say. From mid-September of 1994 I stayed in the hospital on supporting drips as a 1A listed candidate until this heart became available, October 19, 1994.

At one point during that stay, it was decided to implant a pacemaker due to my strange heart rhythms through the night. As I was being readied for that surgical procedure (a minor one to implant a device about the size of a deck of cards in the chest), who appeared at my table where I was getting ready but Dr. Magness. She gave me a little gift I will never forget, a smiling small teddy bear from her nurse, Janet. If you have to go under for a procedure, let me say its a very pleasant way to loose consciousness with a smile and later to awake to her gifted bear when I awoke.

Over the years since, I have often talked about that special loving care and never forgot their love and support. Upon this year’s 20th anniversary of the transplant, I so wanted to go back and say thank you in person, but distance and a busy schedule kept that from happening. Yesterday, after a family visit with grandchildren and my son and his wife, we were driving within stopping distance and finally “did it!” – what a wonderful moment to show both of them the results of their work some 20+ years later. We hugged and I shared our new TRIO post-transplant cancer project with them as further evidence of how this heart keeps paying it forward. With Janet retiring at the end of January, this visit came just in time. Yes, I had sent Christmas cards each year, but this was so very special to share this ‘new’ heart with them, the first time they had seen it in action since that fateful pass off over 20 years ago.

PS: One regretful afterthought – so sorry I didn’t think in that excitement of the visit to take a picture to post here. Oh well, next time, but not so long til that next visit.

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