My name is Tim Shie. I received a heart transplant on April 22nd, 2018. It has been a crazy journey.

In the fall of 2017, I was diagnosed with heart failure. Fluid was building up in my lungs and around my heart, making it very difficult to breathe. My heart had an ejection fraction of 11 percent, had become enlarged and was unable to keep up with my body. Shortly after being diagnosed with heart failure, I had surgery to insert a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), which is an implanted mechanical titanium pump that supplements the existing heart. The purpose of the LVAD was to help get me to heart transplantation. I needed a new heart.

After some genetic testing, it was determined I was born with a specific chromosome that lead to my heart failure. The scientific diagnosis is called Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy. In simple terms, my heart did not develop properly. Instead of developing into a strong muscle that pumps blood throughout the body efficiently, my heart was acting more like a sponge. That sponge was unable to pump effectively, eventually resulting in an overworked enlarged heart that failed. My immediate concern was for my two daughters, my two brothers, and their families. Fortunately, after some genetic testing, no one else had the same chromosome.

Fastforward to April 2018. I was about six months into recovering from LVAD surgery. Keep in mind an LVAD (titanium pump) is the size of a major league baseball. It did not magically appear inside my chest. You do the math. It took four months of recovery before they would place me on the active heart transplant list. I went to rehabilitation three times a week.

Once I was added to the active transplant list, it started to become a mental waiting game. The average wait time for heart transplant for my blood type, tissue type, and size was estimated at 1 year. I prepared myself every day. I was fortunate and received the call on April 21, 2018. I remember that day very well. It was a day of mixed emotions as you know there is only one way for you to receive a new heart. Michael was my donor. Michael and I are now teammates for life.

On April 20th, 2019, one year from Michael’s passing and roughly one year from heart transplant, with my wife Kay, and my two daughters, Sydney and Emily, I ran in Iowa Donor Network’s Green 5K in Des Moines. I am just happy to be here. 

--Tim  Shie, Heart Recipient

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