Travel Delays Prevent Life-Saving Heart Transplant


Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-790(WL) aircraft is airborne as it departs Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California USA, | Image by Philip Pilosian, Shutterstock

While many continue to battle weather-related travel delays, one Alaskan man is battling for his life.

Patrick Holland, 56, suffers from congestive heart failure. After nearly three weeks on the transplant list, he found a heart donor match in Seattle. Following several travel delays, however, he was unable to receive the care he needed.

“It was terrifying news to hear that I was going to get a transplant, to be honest with you, I was terrified,” Holland recollected to CNN.

Holland’s apprehension surrounding the impending surgery quickly turned into excitement. The father of seven was given an eight-hour window to arrive in Seattle for surgery. He immediately booked an overnight flight with Alaska Airlines.

However, his excitement was short-lived after realizing the flight was canceled.

“My heart sank,” said Holland.

Luckily, a representative from Alaska Airlines helped Holland board another flight. After four hours in the air, however, the plane was rerouted and landed in Anchorage, Alaska, much to Holland’s dismay.

Stranded in the Anchorage airport amidst a winter storm, Holland awaited another flight. Unfortunately, one by one, flights were canceled.

“[M]y worst fears were overwhelming me,” Holland said. “[T]he longer [a heart] waits, the longer the tissue decomposes.”

After three cancellations in Anchorage, Holland received a call from the heart transplant coordinator, who informed him the heart would be donated to another patient.

“It’s tough to have a body that wants to run but not to have a heart that will let you,” Holland told CNN in an interview. “It takes away a lot. But you know what, on the same side, I believed that somebody else was going to get a miracle gift. So, we just prayed for them.”

Despite the setback, Holland hopes to receive another opportunity for a heart transplant. Holland expects the surgery will give him the strength to help his wife of 17 years raise their seven children, the youngest of whom is three years old.

In the interview, Holland expressed hope of finding temporary housing in Seattle, so he would not miss his next chance to have surgery.

In a Facebook post, Holland’s wife, Haley, informed readers that, following the initial reports of her husband’s story, someone had offered him a place to stay in Seattle. She also urged others to register organ donors.

“Patrick never expected to be in a position of needing someone else’s heart to survive,” she wrote. “This isn’t just Patrick’s story. It’s yours and mine. It’s our parent’s. It’s our children’s. It’s our friend’s, our neighbor’s, and our colleague’s.”

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