My family’s business, Renfro Funeral Services, has given me a lot perspective throughout my life. For years I’ve worked with grieving families who’ve been able to donate organs and tissue after the passing of a loved one. Little did I know that I would soon see this from a very different perspective.
In 2008, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. We don’t know what caused my heart to fail. My health continued to decline and it got so bad that I had to receive an LVAD, a mechanical heart, in 2011. At first I embraced it. I made sure I had plenty of batteries and even walked in the 2012 Heart Mini Marathon with it.
In October of 2013, a potentially deadly MRSA infection threatened my life and caused me to make the difficult choice to go on the waiting list for a heart transplant. After being transferred to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis I was listed, ironically enough, on
Valentine’s Day, 2014. Now came the waiting.
On March 21, 2014, I received the call. We were hopeful but braced ourselves for potentially bad news that it was a false alarm or not a good enough match. We soon found out it was a perfect match. My surgeon later told my family and me that the heart came in the nick of time as I didn’t have much longer to wait. When I went home, I couldn’t believe how light I felt not having the burden of the heavy LVAD system weighing me down.
Because of my donor, I was able to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding.
I’m able to make plans for the future and be there for my wife, Gayle, and my family. This experience has changed all of our attitudes. As a funeral director, I saw one aspect of donation for the longest time. Now, as a recipient, this gift is nothing short of a miracle. Your health is one of the most important things in life and many of us take that for granted.
To my donor’s family, I sincerely hope that knowing how many people he has helped brings them some peace and closure. I hope they know that their extraordinary gift will never be taken for granted for as long as I live.
Julian H. Renfro