Oklahoma Man Celebrates 25th Anniversary Of Heart Transplant

Saturday, March 16th 2013, 7:30 pm
By: News 9

Saturday marked a milestone for one Oklahoman who became the state's 33rd heart transplant recipient 25 years ago.

Leo Hill suffered from Cytomegalovirus that had eaten away at his heart tissue, reducing its function to the point where Hill needed machines just to keep him alive.

"He says, I don't know. It might be a day or two. It might be a month or so but inevitably here in the short time, your heart will be gone. It's already practically gone," Hill recalls his doctor telling him.

Hill's wife, Annie, said the entire family was called to say their 'goodbyes' as Leo lay in a hospital bed barely able to communicate. Doctors told him he needed the transplant or he would die. Hill agreed to the procedure.

"At that time I had stuff down my throat trying to keep me alive, breath for me. I couldn't talk. My hands were tried and everything to keep me from jerking these tubes out. I had to write notes if anyone had information that I wanted to give to them I wrote the notes."

Hill's fortunes changed when doctors found a potential match in California.

"He just come in there, he poked me and said, 'Think we got a heart for you. You want it?' I couldn't say anything, but I finally got my finger up and said yeah."

That was the last thing he really remembers because doctors began prepping him for surgery while they harvested the heart and flew it to Oklahoma. The procedure was a success. Hill said it gave him a new lease on life and hopes more people will consider becoming organ donors. He said he is living proof that donors save lives.

"All I can say is that's the best thing that happened for a person that has no longer to live."