Jack and Barb Goltz are long-term guests at Transplant House. Their story touches upon so many themes we see time and again with those on the transplant journey – waiting, advocating for oneself, multiple procedures, a longer road to recovery and having to uproot one’s life quickly to travel away from home for a chance at renewed life. We are also touched that they have felt supported in their journey by Transplant House and have experienced the embrace of our community. Here is their story, in Jack’s words:
“I had a heart attack over 20 years ago. Over the next two decades, I progressed through several medical procedures – stents, open heart by-pass, defibrillator, ablation, pick-line that pumped medicine 24 hours a day. In January 2020, I was told I needed a heart transplant, but the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville said I was too old. When I talked with several other transplant facilities throughout the country, the message was always the same – too old.
One of the facilities I contacted was the Cleveland Clinic, where I was basically told “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” I took that as a rejection. At the time, COVID-19 was cranking into gear and I believe that was the cause for the delay. That following August, I received a phone call where a lady asked me if she could get information from me for a procedure I was scheduled for the following week. I didn’t know what this procedure was and Cleveland Clinic representative explained everything – I had three days before my wife Barb and I had to start the drive from Florida to Ohio. A day after that phone call, I received a letter with my itinerary that had been mailed two weeks prior, hence my confusion.
Prior to arriving in Cleveland, my health was noticeably going downhill and I actually maximized my changes for a transplant with the way the timing worked out. If I’d come to Cleveland earlier, I likely would not have been critical enough to become a priority. However, when I arrived in August and was given an exam, I was told I was very sick and could not leave the hospital. One week later, I was given a new life.
Being so far from home, I was told after my heart transplant that I should hang around Cleveland. Our Social Worker Kay Kendall, who has been wonderful, helped Barb get in touch with Transplant House of Cleveland. We were so fortunate that there was an apartment available when we needed it. The folks who manage the House have been fantastic and handle requests immediately. For example, I requested a saw to do a small job and it was available to me in the time it took Amy, the Operations Manager, to go home and bring it back. Even every-day things like carrying in groceries and shoveling snow are exceeding expectations. They are super people who really serve and go out of their way to help make it a pleasant experience. The other tenants have all been very respectful, helpful and truly understanding of what each person is going through.
I didn’t expect to stay as long as I’ve been here (September through April with more procedures into May), but I’ve had a speed bumps to my recovery. I’d love to be home, but I’m confident this is the best place to be until it’s safe to leave. Thank you to both the Cleveland Clinic and Transplant House for all you do to make it home and family.”
~Jack Goltz, Heart Transplant Recipient from Florida