"...the doctor tells me i have 2 choices: I can die or have a heart transplant..." -Eric Rasmussen

My story starts back in the Fall of 1991. I was just 23 years old, and had been working as a baggage handler for about 3 weeks. I didn't feel good, but I thought it was just a cold and I went on working. I didn't have insurance through my place of employment, so what could i do? One day I woke up and felt extremely sick so i took a day off work and flew from Cleveland Ohio back to my home outside Kansas city. I saw our family doctor and he told me it was just a chest cold, and that I would be fine. So back to Ohio I went. A week later I wasn't getting any better so I went back home to the doctor. This time he said that my family has asthma and suggested that I might have it as well. He suggested I talk about a good specialist. (NOT) 

I had missed some time from work so when the chance for overtime came up I took it. October 23rd was a hot day and I was loading a charter jet for the Kansas City Chiefs. I had just started loading bags when suddenly I felt dizzy. Next, I woke up and found myself  strapped to a gurney being loaded in an ambulance. I thought OH SHIT!  

Off to the hospital we went.  The EMT took my pulse again and again, and just yelled to the driver light it up. By the time I got to the hospital I found out that my pulse was a whopping 21 BPM. The next thing I knew they were calling a cardiologist to the ER stat. I got up and looked around and saw that I was the only one in the ER. The doctor came in and moved me to ICU. I was frightened. They performed an echo and the nurses eyes got wide. She looked at the doctor and they stopped the test. The doctor asked me if there is anyone i could call. I told them all of my family was back in Missouri. He told me to call them, so i did. During my call the doctor asks for the phone and leaves the room. He hands me back the phone and tells me my mother (who is a nurse) is on her way. 

My mom arrives the next day and sees me laying there with dozens of tubes and wires in me and she loses it.  The doctor tells me I have a very enlarged heart and that I may not live through the night. My mind races and I begin freaking out. There is test after test, and finally the doctor tells me i have 2 choices: I can die or have a heart transplant.

I took the 2nd option. After a  lot of convincing I got to drive with my parents back to Kansas  City instead of having to take an air ambulance. We went to St. Lukes Hospital where i met Dr. Dennis Bresenhan, great doctor. He was one of those doctors who didn't have to say anything he would just give you that look, and you understood completely. (I was sad the day he retired.)  

From Wikipedia - A new heart
transplanted in the thorax of a recipient
I went on bed rest November 2nd. I could walk to the bathroom and to the table for meals and that was it. On  the 7th of February 1991, while I was watching Doogie Howser MD (no joke), I got the call and in the days that followed I had a heart transplant. I got my second chance at life. 
My new heart lasted for 19 years. On October 23rd 2009 I was informed that i needed another transplant. About four months later, on February 25, i got the second most important call of my life, but this time it was a little different.   I was going to have what is known as a direct donation. Someone that I knew passed on and his mother asked if i could have the heart. I got it, and now I'm 2 years out and doing great. 

Don't ignore the warning signs of heart disease. Take care of your heart.

Eric Rasmussen
Follow me on twitter @cubs673


Benjamin J. Carey said...

How uncanny. Yesterday I met Erik, the same day that my younger brother found out he was accepted to the transplant program at NYP hospital. Thanks for the story Erik, it was nice speaking with you. Wishing you Godspeed.

leyla said...

Wow it is such an amazing story and hope u r doing good. I have 15 month old baby girl who had heart transplant. She was born with heart defect

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