Man who missed heart transplant moving to be more prepared

Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 1:25 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU/Gray News) - An Alaska man who missed his chance for a heart transplant when weather issues caused canceled flights is moving to Seattle, so that when he next gets the call about a transplant, he’ll be ready to go.

Patrick Holland said 2023 is starting off much better than the end of 2022, thanks to the kindness of strangers.

“Just people all over the world sending me good vibes and prayers. It’s been pretty good,” Holland said.

Patrick Holland, a 57-year-old transplant candidate, got a call that a new heart was available...
Patrick Holland, a 57-year-old transplant candidate, got a call that a new heart was available for him in a Seattle hospital. But he was unable to fly to the city after an unprecedented ice storm canceled flight after flight, and his window for the new heart closed.(Source: Haley Holland, KTUU, KING via CNN)

On Dec. 22, after only three weeks on the active wait list, the 57-year-old transplant candidate got a call that a new heart — described as a perfect match — was available for him in a Seattle hospital, KTUU reports.

“It’s just not common to have it that fast,” Holland said. “So, I really wasn’t prepared for it when I should have been. You know, ‘cause miracles do happen, and one did happen. And I missed it.”

Holland, who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, was unable to fly to Seattle after an unprecedented ice storm in Washington canceled flight after flight. The window for his new heart closed, going instead to another person on the transplant list.

Holland was left with his faith and the desire to live for his wife and seven children. He decided to relocate to Seattle so that next time he gets that call, he will be ready.

He didn’t have a place to stay in Seattle, but much to Holland’s surprise, strangers who heard his story started reaching out.

“We’ve had some nice people step up and say, ‘Hey, we can take you for a month,’ and we’ve had someone else say, ‘Hey, we’ll take you for another month.’ So, we’re just going to see where that takes us, and I think I’m going to be fine now,” he said.

Holland said it’s odd to be asking for help when he is more used to giving it, but he feels blessed by people’s generosity. He is making a promise to whoever his donor might be that he will put his new heart to good use.

“I will help as many people as I can,” Holland said. “I will definitely chase after my kids and, of course, my wife, too. I will go back to shoveling snow for seniors and chopping wood, and I’ll do everything that I can — everything that’s been taken away from me, for sure.”

Holland said doctors can’t tell him if a new heart will be available soon, but he plans to head to Seattle in the near future, so he’ll be ready just in case.

“This way, if there’s a storm, I’ll walk through it if I have to,” Holland said.