Local man celebrates Valentine's Day with new heart

Local man celebrates Valentine's Day with new heart

Not only is it Valentine's Day, it's also National Organ Donor Day.

This year one Pensacola man is thankful to have a healthy heart to celebrate thanks to a donor.

According to the National Foundation for Transplants, 22 people die each day waiting for an organ donation. Jonathan Richmond is not one of those people.

In fact, his story is nothing short of a miracle.

Heart transplant surgeries are rare. Dr. Brent Videau from Baptist Health Care said only about 2,000 surgeries are done each year across the United States.

"A very talented heart transplant surgeon is taking your heart out of your body and putting this new, very viable heart in," said Dr. Videau.

They're rare, not only because the lack of donors, but also many different variables have to match up to make the surgery a success. Donor compatibility, blood type, patient/donor stature, the list continues.

Despite the odds, last November Jonathan Richmond turned out to be one of the 2,000.

"I need to go ahead with life like normal and overcome the little obstacles that there might be," said Jonathan.

Jonathan, now in his 60s, has suffered from congestive heart disease for years. He said his story is nothing short of a miracle.

"I've seen God do a lot of miracles with me and my family," said Jonathan. "So I am grateful."

Within 24 hours of being placed at the top of the heart donor recipient list, Jonathan got a match; within a week he had a new heart.

"It's a second chance, and trying to understand the extent to which God used all these doctors, and the timing, how everything went like clockwork, there's no way to figure it," said Jonathan. "It's a miracle."

He's not the only one who thinks so.

"This was a miracle. I see it," said Dr. Videau. "It just doesn't happen like this, this often."

Dr. Videau was one of the doctors who arranged for Jonathan to be transferred to the Mayo Clinic for the surgery.

"He could not get out of bed, he was dying," said Dr. Videau. "To see him back on his feet, to see how energetic he was, it was like seeing a whole different patient. This is what you go into medicine for, this rejuvenates us."

In order to qualify for a heart transplant, you have to meet certain specifics. One of which has to do with measuring the pressure of the heart.

"They were incredibly off the wall in him," said Dr. Videau. "Bad enough that there might have been a chance the Mayo doctors might have said, we can't help him."

After another unexplainable turn of events while sleeping one night, Jonathan accidentally pulled his catheter out, disconnecting the device. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic never saw the pressure readings and his surgery was approved.

"To realize the uniqueness of my situation it's mind boggling how it all worked and why, I don't understand it," said Jonathan. "Obviously, God has a purpose for me here."

Although he's still in the recovery phase, Jonathan said he's grateful for every extra day he now has with his wife, children and grandchildren.

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