#happylife: Valentine’s Day has whole new meaning for heart transplant recipient

On Valentine’s Day 2018, a Spokane Valley man says he received a call that changed his life, and the holiday synonymous with love and hearts took on a whole new meaning.

43 year-old has Jim Petrick suffered from heart problems for his entire adult life. At 21, he was diagnosed with a ventricular arrhythmia, a heart rhythm disorder.

His genetic condition progressively got worse, “my heart was bound and determined to fail on me at some point,” he added.

Five years ago, he went in to heart failure and was told he would need a new heart.

The Montana native had to pick up his entire life, and move to Spokane to wait, as the procedure would eventually be done at Sacred Heart, the number one cardiac hospital in the entire state.

Jim says when he was put on the transplant list, he was told it typically can take up to two years to be matched to a donor. He waited 4 years.

On the holiday that is synonymous with hearts, he received the call he was waiting for, but he says he wasn’t excited. In fact, he didn’t think the surgery would happen.

“Its one of those things that everyone else was more excited than I was. They tell you there are these things called ‘dry runs.’ You could get a phone call, and you could be actually in the operating room and right before they open you up, they find there is something wrong with the heart.”

Two days later, he awoke in the hospital with a new heart. His recovery has been easy, he shared. He believes that’s because all of his surgeries and procedures related to his condition over the past two decades prepared him for it.

“It was the perfect heart for me,” he added.

Jim doesn’t know much about the donor. He says privacy laws limit the information he can get. He said there is an opportunity for the family of the donor to reach out to him, something he would welcome.

How will he plan on marking the anniversary of the transplant? Jim explains that he is focused on the future, diving back in to his loves, photography and sports.

“I need to focus on my health, overall health, lose weight. Be healthy all around to take advantage of this heart and do it justice.”

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