Keith Ivy, a husband, and father of three sons, woke up Thanksgiving Day, 2005, and had difficulty breathing. He couldn’t walk to the front door without feeling fatigue, tired, and out of breath.
The next day, Keith went to the doctor, and was prescribed an inhaler. Keith thought it was strange to develop asthma at fifty-three years old.
Within a week, Keith had to return to his doctor. He was sent to a cardiologist, who ran test and diagnosed him with an enlarged heart. “I later discovered that asthma is a very common initial misdiagnosis of congestive heart failure,” says Keith. Keith struggled with his condition for the next four years.
By 2009, Keith’s cardiologist told him that he needed a heart transplant, as he possibly had a couple years to live, and he would live a life of being tired and out of breath.
Keith spent the month of August 2009, in a Sacramento Kaiser hospital. The heart transplant team tried to improve his heart condition by giving him medications. By the end of August, the team had exhausted its efforts. A pick line was installed in Keith’s arm, and he was given medication to help his heart function, and sent home. Keith had to deal with the odds of survival. He was placed on Stanford hospital’s list for a heart transplant.
Keith continued exercising, and playing golf.
Six weeks after being on the heart transplant list, Stanford hospital called Keith indicating they had a heart. But Keith was dealing with other dilemmas. He had a fever, and learned that he had contracted an infection. As a result, Keith was taken off the transplant list. If things couldn’t get any worse, Keith also learned that he had a growth on his thyroids. Keith had surgery to remove the growth, and was in the process of being placed back on the heart transplant list when he learned that he had pneumonia. He was taken off the list again.
After dealing with these traumatic health issues, Keith told his wife that he was checking into the hospital, and was going to stay until he received a heart transplant. On February 24, 2010, Keith received a heart transplant.
Six months after his transplant, Keith sent a letter to the family who donated him the gift of life. He didn’t get an immediate response, and thought it was too painful for the family to discuss.
One day Keith’s phone rang, and he was unable to answer right away. When he checked his voice message, a lady’s voice stated, “Hi my name is Patricia, and I received your letter today. You have my husband’s heart. Please call me.”
Keith called her, their emotions were high, they cried, and had a “heartfelt conversation.”
Keith is a member of Sierra Donor Services Multicultural Team, and seeks to tell others the importance of donating the gift of life.