An Alaskan man in need of a heart transplant had to give up the chance to receive another patient’s vital organ when travel chaos caused by the US winter storm over Christmas kept him from getting get to the procedure on time.
Patrick Holland, 56, a father of seven with congestive heart failure, received a potentially upsetting call from the University of Washington Medical Center on Dec. 22 that a heart was becoming available.
“It was terrifying news to hear that I was going to have a transplant, to be honest with you. I was terrified,” Holland told PKBNEWS. “And then I was excited.”
Holland, who is from Fairbanks, Alaska, had an 8-hour window to fly to Seattle for the procedure, so he immediately booked an overnight flight and rushed to the airport.
But when he got there he was told it had been canceled amid last week’s ferocious storm which battered most of the country.
After learning of his situation, airport staff put him on the next flight – which ended up being diverted to Anchorage mid-flight due to the ice closing of runways in Seattle – which Holland n only realized upon landing.
“I started to panic,” he said, “and my worst fears were overwhelming me. Because when you hear that, you’re like, there’s someone giving a heart and I can’t imagine “Not that he can wait that long. Because the longer it waits, the more the tissue breaks down.”
Shortly after, he received the call that the hospital was going to donate the heart to someone else.
Holland said he tried to look on the bright side and was happy another person received the vital organ over the weekend and was able to have their own Christmas miracle.
“I think I cried more that day than in my life and felt all the emotions I’ve ever felt. To get out of that funk, I immediately said, ‘Thank God he going to be a family that’s going to save somebody’s dad, save somebody’s brother, save somebody, somebody’s uncle, you know,” he told King 5.
Holland said he hopes the operation will help him care for his seven children, ages 3 to 36, as well as his 17-year-old wife.
He also said he plans to return to find temporary housing in Seattle so he doesn’t miss another chance at a new heart.
“We aim to be better prepared for the second call,” reads a Facebook page dedicated to his journey. “The first arrived in two and a half weeks. The next one could arrive at any time, or it could take weeks or months.