Fairbanks heart transplant patient ‘blessed’ by kindness of strangers

A Fairbanks man who is waiting for a heart transplant says he has been 'blessed' by kindness of strangers
Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 4:12 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 2, 2023 at 5:53 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) - Patrick Holland said 2023 is starting off much better than the end of 2022. On Dec. 22, after only three weeks on the active wait list, the 57-year-old transplant candidate got a call that a new heart — described as a perfect match — was available for him in a Seattle hospital.

“It’s just not common to have it that fast,” Holland said. “So I really wasn’t prepared for it when I should have been. You know, miracles do happen — and one did happen. And I missed it.”

Holland was unable to fly to Seattle after an unprecedented ice storm in Washington cancelled flight after flight. The window for his new heart closed, going instead to another person on the transplant list.

Holland was left with his faith and his family, and the desire to live for his wife and seven children. He decided to relocate to Seattle so that next time he would be ready, only he didn’t have a place to stay. Much to Holland’s surprise, strangers who heard his story started reaching out.

“Just people all over the world sending me good vibes and prayers. It’s been pretty good,” Holland said.

“We’ve had some nice people step up and say, hey we can take you for a month, and we’ve had someone else say hey, we can take you for another month, so we’re just going to see where that takes us and I think I’m going to be fine now.”

Holland said it’s odd to be asking for help when he is more used to giving it, but said he feels blessed by people’s generosity. He made a promise to whomever his donor might be that he will put his new donor heart to good use.

“I will help as many people as I can,” Holland said. “I will definitely chase after my kids — and of course my wife too. I will go back to shoveling snow for seniors and chopping wood, and I’ll do everything that I can — everything that’s been taken away from me, for sure.”

Holland said doctors can’t tell him if a new heart will be available soon, but he plans to head to Seattle in the near future so he’ll be ready just in case.

“This way if there’s a storm, I’ll walk through it if I have to,” Holland said.