Ex-athlete awaiting call, second-chance transplant
by Don Lajoie Star Sports Reporter
Patrick Muldoon considers his own image — a high school quarterback rolling right, arm cocked and ready to throw — depicted on the poster advertising a fundraising event in his honour.
Now awaiting a call from a London hospital to inform him that a donor heart has come in for the transplant he desperately needs, the former university athlete hopes for a “second chance at life,” in which he can replay just such a scene again — running, looking and tossing a perfectly completed pass to one of his family or friends in a touch football game.
“I’m just waiting for the beeper to go off,” Muldoon said, indicating the device at his hip which, when it sounds, can only mean that the organ has arrived. “That call would remove all the frustration of waiting…. It means a second life and I can’t wait to get at it.“
Muldoon, 47, had not always been so sick. Only seven years ago, he was a physical specimen, so into working out and staying healthy that he sought out gyms while on vacation to keep in top shape. Ironically, he now believes it was at one of those gyms, in New Orleans in 2000, where he picked up the virus that attacked his heart and sapped his strength so much that he now barely has enough energy to last at any task for two hours a day without panting for breath.
The single father and chartered accountant has watched his heart steadily deteriorate, with a few rallies in between, since returning from that vacation.
At first he believed the sudden illness, which made it difficult for him to even board the airplane home, was due to the flu or food poisoning.
But, when he found it difficult a month later to drive his car without panting for breath, he went to see his doctor. An EKG showed he should be admitted to hospital. Heart specialists determined that he had picked up a virus.
He said it has never been confirmed exactly what the virus is but it attacked his cardiac muscle, causing acute inflammation. There is no cure short of replacing his heart.
His first line of treatment was a cocktail of different medications but, through the years, they have become less effective. In November, he visited specialists in London and underwent a six-day battery of tests to determine his suitability for a heart transplant. Muldoon was accepted and placed on the list.
“It’s now three months and I’m still waiting,” he said. “Drugs aren’t going to help anymore. They’ve got to replace the heart. I don’t know how long thisone will last. I’ve got to get lucky…. When I think they are going to lay me out on a table, break my bones and rip my chest open, it makes me anxious. But the waiting has been difficult. This heart has lasted for eight years. It needs to last a little bit longer.”He described himself as a spiritual man and said the thought that someone must die for him to get his second chance bothers him. “I don’t know how to deal with that,” he acknowledged. “There is not much I can do. God will have to take care of it. I can only offer my sympathies to the family of the donor.”
Although he has been warned that one in five heart transplant recipients don’t make it beyond a year, he feels his previous healthy lifestyle and clean living habits will give him an advantage. He noted that all of his other organs and vascular system work perfectly.
In the meantime, he said, he wants to thank his family and friends for the continuous support they have shown him. He noted that friends have organized a fundraising event for him at the Serbian Community Centre, 6770 Tecumseh Rd. E. for March 28.
“I really want to express my gratitude to family and friends who have done so much for me in the years I’ve been really sick,” he said.
“I only hope I can repay them one day.”
The fundraising event is advertised on the poster depicting him playing quarterback during Herman high school’s championship season in 1978.
Muldoon went on from there to play for Windsor AKO and the University of Windsor. Sports and conditioning are tied up in his identity.
“But I don’t have the energy to do what I want now,” he said. “I miss my physical freedom. I miss working out and I miss sports. But I’ll be doing physio 48 hours after the transplant. I think within six months I’ll be back on the golf course. I can’t wait for my second life.“
Friends and family are organizing a fundraising event to help Patrick Muldoon for March 28 at the Serbian Community Centre, 6770 Tecumseh Rd. E. For tickets or donations, call Rick Muldoon at 519-735-3729, or Willie Beale at 519-796-1959.
[info_box] Q: How successful are organ transplant operations? A: Receiving a transplant can literally save or dramatically improve a seriously ill person’s quality of life. Advances in surgical skills and better drugs mean that a year after surgery 93% of kidneys in living donor transplants, 88% of kidneys from people who have died, 87% of organs in liver transplants and 85% of organs in heart transplants are still functioning well. These figures are improving all the time. [/info_box] [ztop] [savelives_box]