LIMA — Trevor Henry was hours away from being induced into a coma when he got the call: he’d been placed atop the waiting list for a heart transplant. The perfect heart was now available.
At just 27 years old, Henry was set to undergo his first heart transplant surgery at The Ohio State University-Wexner Medical Center on Feb. 14, weeks after he learned he was experiencing heart failure.
The diagnosis is so rare for adults Henry’s age that he initially blamed his breathing troubles, chest pain and nausea on COVID-19. But now his age, combined with the poor condition of his heart, meant Henry would be given top priority on the waiting list.
“I woke up and felt like I was reborn,” Henry said. “It was a whole new life.”
Doctors had previously told Henry he had hours left to live, according to his mother, Vonessa Henry.
His failing heart was causing other organs to stop functioning. His liver, kidneys and pancreas had stopped processing waste, causing Henry to gain weight. And his health was in rapid decline.
“He started saying he wanted to give up,” Vonessa Henry said.
“I wasn’t seeing the end,” Henry said. “I wasn’t seeing any progression. … We were just waiting.”
But Henry’s outlook changed when he was elevated to the highest priority on the transplant list. A new heart that fit his doctor’s liking was available shortly after. Henry went into surgery on Valentine’s Day.
Now in recovery, Henry is waiting to see whether his body will reject the heart or if his immune system can be lowered just enough to accept the new organ without causing new problems. He’ll soon learn what caused his first heart to fail — was it genetic or the result of the virus? — and will see how long his current heart will last before another transplant is needed.
But until then, Henry and his mother are relishing his second shot at life. He hopes to one day write to the family of his organ donor, whose decision saved Henry’s life.
“Somebody’s loved one’s heart is beating in my son’s chest,” Vonessa Henry said. “If it wasn’t for that person being so awesome with being an organ donor, I may not have mine.”