THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF THE HEART WALK THIS YEAR!
Mike Hill went to bed the night before his 54th birthday wondering what kind of cake he might have the next day. A phone call early the next morning changed those plans. Instead of cake, he would be getting a new heart.
Mike had a history of heart problems dating back to the 1990s. His first heart attack happened while he was at work, operating a bulldozer. Doctors in his hometown of Hazard, Ky., were able to place two stents in his heart to open a blockage in blood flow.
Another heart attack followed in 2010. That time, it was the type of heart attack known as the “widow maker” because it almost completely blocks the left coronary artery and often leads to death. Doctors in Hazard continued to care for Mike near his home for about a year. But Mike’s heart was getting weaker. He could barely walk from one end of his house to the other without getting short of breath.
His local doctors knew Mike needed a higher level of care, so they referred him to a cardiologist in Lexington. "They said my heart was so bad, there was really nothing else they could do for me there,” Mike said.
Waiting for a donor
In September 2011, Mike’s cardiologist adjusted his blood pressure medication and put him on another drug for congestive heart failure that helps the heart pump. He told Mike he would be a good candidate for heart transplantation because he was otherwise fairly healthy.
Except for regular appointments with his doctors, Mike returned home to Hazard to wait for a heart donor. About 5 a.m. on Sept. 19, 2013, Mike’s 54th birthday, a nurse called to let him know a heart was on the way.
“We have three grandsons, all boys,” Mike said. “That’s all that was running through my mind, just to be able to get outside and play with them and enjoy life as it was before.”
That afternoon, Mike underwent a five-hour surgery to receive his new heart, which had belonged to a 30-year-old man. Mike’s wife, Claudia, his sister, two daughters and three grandsons heard regular updates from nurses who came out to give them information on Mike’s condition.
Mike said he woke up feeling entirely different than before the surgery. “I felt like my chest was shaking because I hadn’t had a normal, beating heart in so long,” he said. “My wife put her hand on my chest, and it was just a joy to feel that new heart inside me beating so strongly.”
Getting back on the bike
The day after surgery, Mike was able to get out of bed for a while. On the second day, he walked 1.2 miles through the hospital.
Tests haven’t shown any signs that Mike’s body will reject his new heart. He plans to spend more time with his family and return to one of his favorite activities – riding his Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle.
“Every bike I see or hear, I have to stop and look at it,” he said. “They said as soon as I got back home, there’s no limitations to what I could do, as long as I feel OK. I’m ready to go.”
Central Kentucky Heart Walk
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Joe F. Reed Memorial Heart Walk
Saturday, April 26, 2014
The American Heart Association is the largest voluntary health organization working to prevent, treat and defeat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. These diseases, the Nation's No.1 and No.4 killers, claim more than 813,804 American lives a year. Thanks to all our walkers, donors and volunteers who have accepted the challenge to help fight heart disease and stroke. We cannot achieve our mission without each one of you!Contact us