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Twelve years ago, one late summer day, our lives changed forever. Without warning, at 39 years of age, Brian had his first episode that prompted me to call for his first of many ambulance rides, emergency room visits, and hospital stays…and a diagnosis that left me paralyzed in fear.
My name is Janet and I’m Brian’s wife of 30 years this July/2012. In the first few years, other than all the tests, medications, hospital visits and doctors, Brian led a pretty normal life…he didn’t FEEL sick until his first serious reality check. He became winded, unable to do his normal daily activities, and his first heart transplant assessment was scheduled, as he now had congestive heart failure. He was still considered too ‘well’ at that time, and with time and increased medications, he turned around and regained his strength, and again we tried to live as normal a life as we could.
But the ‘tough’ times started to get closer together and each recovery was getting harder and Brian was getting weaker. About 1 ½ years before his transplant, Brian became breathless again and unable to do anything that required any amount of effort. Again he was assessed, still too soon. We were happy that he wasn’t ready for transplant, as the fear of something this unimaginable happening in your life is pretty indescribable. But Brian didn’t get better this time, his health continued to decline, and he spent the better part of his days in bed. This was a really tough time in our lives, to watch the one you love suffer, and know that his only hope is your greatest fear.
Brian was again assessed for transplant in May of 2011, and it was now time. I didn’t think it could get any harder, but this was an unbearable stress. Two months later, on July 13th, 3 days after our 29th anniversary, Brian answered the call we had now been praying for.
On the early morning of July 14th, Brian was given a healthy new heart.
Brian and I are both still very emotional about this, knowing that a family had to deal with unspeakable pain, and yet made such a brave and unselfish choice to save the lives of others, and we will be forever grateful for their gift. I myself had long ago signed a donor card, and made my wishes known, before we ever had a clue this was going to happen in our lives. I figured if I couldn’t be on this earth anymore, my wish would be to help someone so they could.
If our story can convince someone that real lives can be saved, real people who are loved could only live because of such an incredible gift, than we are happy to share it. Please register to be an organ donor online, it’s quick, easy and you never know. It could be the someone you love that needs the gift of life.
Brian has had some complications, but his heart is doing very well, and we try to only look forward now to better health and a second chance. We are also deeply grateful to everyone involved in Brian’s care over the years, from his doctors, surgeons, nurses, and those who took the time to brighten Brian’s days, to family, friends and our incredible staff at Tec lanes who have gone above and beyond, we can’t thank them enough.
Sincerely Brian & Janet Beetham
It is then important to discuss your wishes with your family.