An Easter Heart
By Paul Riddle
Ray (not his real name) was a tall man, fifty-something, gregarious, who looked like he had taken very good care of himself. He was in the hospital receiving treatment for a minor infection. Minor, that is, to anyone who has not had a heart transplant. To a transplant patient, there is no such thing as a minor infection. Any bug is a potential threat to life and has to be treated aggressively.
As my new friend told the story of his present illness, he mentioned the heart transplant, and a tear came to his eye as he reminisced about the events of that important day – now nearly twenty years past – when he received his precious gift.
“Some people spend months on the transplant list,” Ray said, “but I was only on it a few days. I’ll never forget. It was Easter Sunday, about 7:30 in the morning, when the call came. “We have a heart,” they told me, “Come right away!” And so he did. Holiday plans immediately went on hold, bags were packed, the car loaded, and they were on their way. “It was a bright, sunny morning, a little cool, the kind of day you always wish you had more of,” Ray remembered, “And I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever see another one of these days.’ So I savored it, and I thanked God for it, and I prayed for a successful transplant.”
The transplant was successful. Ray said the donor was a 23 year old man who was killed in a motorcycle accident. “I’ve never stopped being grateful for my heart, and I’ve never forgotten what that gift cost,” he said with conviction. “And to think – it happened on Easter! I got a new life on resurrection day, and a part of the man who died to give me my heart lives on in me. That was a God thing!” Ray declared.
As I left Ray’s room, I offered a silent prayer honoring the gift that had give Ray new life, and giving thanks for having met Ray. May I hold in gratitude the gifts I receive moment by moment, as Ray does the gift he carries in his chest.