Lonny Robertson

Transplant Recipient - Organ

Here is my story from the time I declined to the point I needed a transplant. I had congestive heart failure for 15 years and staved off symptoms with diet and exercise. I had no pacemaker or assisted device for that time. Strictly minimal medications and a healthy, active lifestyle.

This journey has been long and difficult; not just for myself but also for my family, my business, for every aspect of my life. However, you would be amazed at what your body is capable of when you have no choice but to simply keep pushing forward.

I'll go ahead and start where I feel like the journey really began to test me: with the milrinone. After my initial visit to the transplant center they sent me home with a mobile pump and a chemical called milrinone to basically keep my heart working until we could get me in for transplant. This put me on "the list" at a "4." (7 levels total). The milrinone bag had to be changed every 24 hours. It sucked. I couldnt do anything comfortably. I had to haul my bag around with the pump and line attached to my chest 24 hours a day 7 days a week...oh and yes I had to sleep with it. I also had to wear a life vest, which was a defibrillator that would shock my heart back in case it quit on me. 

A couple of hospital visits from infections later, I was finally admitted for the final push on January 30th. A couple of days after that they put in the impella pump. It went in my right pectoral muscle and down into my heart to move me further up on "the list." I went from a "4" to a "2." The pump was definitely not a pleasant experience. It was painful and led to a nasty hematoma that bled for two weeks straight.

I had the pleasure of spending the next three weeks attached to this pump and experiencing morhphine, fentanyl, dilaudid, hydrocodon, and oxycontin...pain management was an ongoing process because of said pump being inserted into your chest and down into your heart.

I found out I would be receiving my heart on February 20th, 2023. The sense of relief I experienced can't be put into words. It felt like all the last seven months of being sick and unable to enjoy life was finally coming to an end. All the pain, the unknown, the uncertainty, the lack of control of my own life  would all be over soon.

I was overwhelmingly happy, but a somber feeling was also lingering. Knowing someone else is gone so that I can receive a second chance at life is kind of a big pill to swallow.

February 22nd, 2023. The day I received my new heart. It was early and the anticipation and stress was mounting. I wasn't afraid. I was overwhelmingly calm. It was out of my control; whatever was going to happen would happen. My wife and family were there...I'll say that my wife is the strongest woman I know. The surgery was finished at 10:08 a.m. which is when my new heart began to beat. The next thing I remember was waking up in the ICU to my wife and a nurse talking to me. I was still intubated to help me breathe and my arms were strapped down to the bed to ensure that I couldn't pull the tube out. I squeezed my wife's hand and signaled for a pen and paper. I wrote "I love u" "pain 10/10" and "I'm hot." Its odd what I remember and what I don't. I had to sit there intubated for over 2 hours before they finally pulled my tube.