Todd and Wendy met a few weeks before New Year’s Eve 2000. With the turn of the century, life as they knew it changed as well. Todd was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, a defect affecting the upper and lower chambers of the heart. Two years after the diagnosis – and seven months before Todd and Wendy were to be married – Todd underwent heart valve replacement surgery. Thinking the surgery had resolved his heart problem, the couple enjoyed their time as newlyweds.
Three short years later, just five months before the birth of their daughter, Todd’s aortic root and valve needed to be replaced and he underwent an emergency coronary bypass. Although his recovery was difficult, the excitement of the birth of their baby motivated him back to health.
When their daughter was two, Todd had a near-fatal brain hemorrhage. He recovered miraculously, but then four months later, nearly died from bleeding in his spleen.
“After he finally returned home from that hospital stay, I recall talking with him one night about organ donation. To this day, I can’t recall why it came up, for I never doubted that he’d live on into old age,” said Wendy. “I said I was an organ donor – I had always said ‘yes’ when I renewed my driver’s license – and asked if he was. His response was along the lines of, ‘No, nobody’s going to want my heart anyway.’ I left it at that since at the time I didn’t know that so much more could be donated.”
Six months to the day after his first brain hemorrhage, Todd was struck with another. This time, however, Todd was pronounced brain dead. It was then that the question of organ donation came up and Wendy learned that the heart is only one of many organs and tissues that can be used to save and improve lives.