A monthly story of personal strength and courage. This month's story:
A GIFT FROM THE HEART
The Story of Jack Stranko
Fifteen years ago, Jack Stranko’s heart was severely damaged. He had survived six heart attacks and five bypass surgeries, and his doctors said he needed a transplant.
After the last heart attack, Jack’s condition began to deteriorate. Soon after this time, he recalls seeing a newscast of the first heart transplant recipient at The University Hospital in December of 1985. Jack never dreamed that he would be receiving a transplant at the University Hospital just four months later.
Shortly after Jack was placed on the waiting list to receive a heart, he was paged by the transplant coordinator. A heart was available. It was time for the transplant. “I never worried that I wouldn’t get a heart,” Jack states. “I knew it was meant to be to receive a heart as the Lord still had work for me to do.” Just four short days after his transplant Jack, the age 55, was up and walking.
Jack recovered from two different episodes of rejection, but he was again put to the test when, in 1997, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Jack was successfully treated and now walks one and a half to two miles a day, does 35-40 toe touches and rides his bicycle two to three times per week.
“I probably have been able to do more now than I ever did before my transplant,” says Jack. “I know I got a good heart because it has given me 15 years that I wouldn’t have had to do what I enjoy.” At age 70, Jack proudly holds the record for the second oldest surviving heart transplant recipient.
Prior to his transplant, Jack had worked in engineering and manufacturing for 33 years at Ellis & Watts, Inc. He went back to work 12 weeks after his transplant, eventually retiring in 1994. For the past six years, Jack has worked as a consultant for the firm two days a week or more. Jack says, “I enjoy work as much as I did 50 years ago, and I am so grateful for having been given a second shot at living a quality life thanks to my donor!”
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