Skip to main content

Stories from the heart: Heart Month 2018

February is Heart Month and we're sharing stories of those who have received one of the most precious gifts—the gift of life.
Use this image only for News listings

In 2017, 19 people in British Columbia received heart transplants and now have a second chance at life. In celebration of Heart Month, we're highlighting the stories of heart transplant recipients and their families. Here are some of those stories:

Rob Nutter

rob sutter 1.jpgI was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (also known as an enlarged heart) at age 38. As my health worsened, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) was installed, which allowed me to live a normal life for a number of years like that.  

Then in 2011, I went into cardiac arrest, which caused my kidneys to fail. I had an LVAD installed and was put on dialysis. I spent about a year with my LVAD and receiving dialysis treatments until in June 2013, I receive a double transplant: a new heart and kidney.

Over four years later, I’m well. I walk every day, do some gardening, hunting, fishing, and spend time with my family. All the things I do now are because of a family that in their time of loss, donated their loved ones organs to a complete stranger and for that I am very grateful.

Antonella Ciliberto Mazzocchio

Antonella.jpgI was diagnosed with Lupus when I was 19 years old. But it was after giving birth to my daughter in 1992 and suffering from a heart attack, that I first began experiencing troubles with my heart. For 24 years following, I struggled with a sick heart—damaged and growing larger and larger as the years went on. 

Finally in 2013, my heart finally couldn’t take it anymore and I once again, went into cardiac arrest. I was transferred to St. Paul’s Hospital where I was told that my heart was only functioning at 15 percent and that I would need a transplant. Eight months later, I got a new heart.  

My story is proof that miracles do happen. Thank you to all of the people who gave me a second chance at life—from the first responders who were there to assist me at the time of need, to my cardiologist, heart transplant team, and all the wonderful nurses who take care of me. And of course, thank you to my donor and my donor family. I would not be here today if it weren't for you. 

Ron (recipient) and Susan Wakefield

ron.jpgRon was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, caused by the valve on right side not functioning correctly. Unfortunately, a simple valve operation was not possible. He continued to deteriorate and then he was recommended to have a transplant as the only solution. 

After years of trying all sorts of different solutions, we reached a point where no more could be done. His heart continued to deteriorate. In 2016, it was recommended that the only solution for Ron would be a heart transplant—but due to his size and blood type, it was hard to find a suitable match. And while he waited for a new heart, he continued to struggle. Finally, in June 2017, Ron got his new heart.

We’re so thankful to the many miracles we received during this time and from people we least expected. We never felt alone. We’re so very grateful to the many doctors and nurses at St. Paul's Hospital Transplant Unit who assisted with this life changing event. Everyone was very professional, compassionate, and expert. 

Ron and I cannot express enough our gratitude to the donor's family. Simply put, Ron probably would not be here without the special heart he received.

Cory Gilmore

I was diagnosed with congenital heart disease in 2009, which affected the left ventricle of my heart. This meant that my heart was enlarged and my health waned.

After running the gamut of medications, procedures, and therapies, my heart team at St. Paul’s decided in September 2016 to put me on the list for a transplant.

It was a relief of sorts although there could be many setbacks. I was Glad that something could be done after the years of weakness, shortness of breath and anxiety. I was ready for whatever happened.

Just one short week later, a heart became available. I knew I was blessed by a short wait for my donor heart. I had my surgery early October 2016 and since then, recovery has been great. I’ve been active outdoors getting in lots of hiking, skateboarding and walking. I also met a great woman and am engaged to be married.
Words cannot convey the joy and gratitude I have to God, my donor and donor family, plus my excellent heart team at St. Paul’s for everything that has been done.

Every time I push my skateboard around a park or take a flight of stairs and not get winded, I think of my donor and their family. I appreciate the gift I have received by the love of a stranger. It pushes me forward every day to appreciate my second opportunity at living a fruitful life.

Have a story to share?

Want to thank a special living donor in your life? Share your story with us on social media using the hashtag #BCTransplant.

SOURCE: Stories from the heart: Heart Month 2018 ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Transplant. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2024 Provincial Health Services Authority