A year after a heart transplant, Tyler Montgomery proposed to his girlfriend Keverly Pike at the Stiller-Blackburn Multi-Organ Transplant Unit — the same place he was given a second chance at life.
“It was crazy,” Pike said. “We should just go to his biopsy for his one year old and then go home. And then it happened and it was a lot of emotion.”
Montgomery wanted the London Health Sciences Center (LHSC) to be involved after all his hard work and dedication.
“I wanted to get the LHSC team involved in the proposal because without the constant maintenance of my heart to make sure it’s in tip-top shape, I wouldn’t really have the heart, as you might say, to give,” Montgomery said.
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One of the team members who helped coordinate everything was Grant Fisher, transplant coordinator at University Hospital.
“This is our thank you,” Fisher said. “Honestly, to see something like that, the goals and life milestones, that’s why we do it.”
Fisher said when families sign a donor card and give their organs to someone in need, that’s exactly what it does — it gives someone else a second chance at life.
In Montgomery’s case, a heart transplant is a fairly serious transplant process because the body’s “engine.” But Fisher said Montgomery recovered fairly quickly from the hospital after the procedure.
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“Typically someone who has a transplant spends between seven and 21 days in the hospital,” Fisher said.
Montgomery was out in six days.
“It has truly been a remarkable recovery on his part, due in large part to his youth but probably also, if not more, to his determination to return to normal life.”
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When Montgomery found out he needed a heart transplant, he was shocked. It happened so quickly; One day he picked up shingles to take to his crew at work, and three months later he left the hospital with a new heart.
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“I didn’t realize how sick I was, and I don’t think a lot of other people realized it either,” Montgomery said. “It was very emotional, very nerve-wracking. But I knew I had to keep my head and stay positive.”
While in the hospital, he listened to motivational podcasts and made sure to get out of bed and go for a walk every day.
“If you recover early and don’t have complications like infection or major problems with rejection of the transplanted organ, then you can do very well,” Fisher said. “But we really commend the work of the patients who have to go through this. They’re the ones who do the hard part after we’ve done our job.”
Now that Montgomery has been given more life to live, the way he goes about his everyday life has changed.
“I don’t stress about the little things anymore,” Montgomery said. “I learned the hard way how fragile life and time can be, and it taught me to enjoy those rainy days, to enjoy that sunrise and sunset loop.”
He added that his outlook on life has taken a complete 180 degree turn and become more positive.
“There is no more negativity, the cup is always half full no matter what. I refuse to give up because I’ve been blessed with a second chance.”
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