A heart full of gratitude—for one man who underwent a heart transplant, this phrase has a whole new meaning.
After years of being plagued with heart problems, Larry Hurry, a resident of Killeen for nearly 25 years, suffered a second heart attack and received a devastating diagnosis – his heart was no longer working the way it should, and he needed a heart transplant.
It began over 20 years ago when Larry suffered his first heart attack at age 42. Because of the strain, he struggled with a damaged heart for years. Larry was diligent about going in for routine stress tests at Scott & White and worked with his doctors to find solutions to live a long, healthy life.
Larry’s heart was in bad shape, and his doctors wondered if he would be able to return to his work as a police officer for Killeen. But after having served in the military for over 20 years, he was strong and determined to keep fighting.
In April of 2011, his cardiologist recommended a specific stress test to determine the strength of his heart, but during the test he experienced a second heat attack. Within minutes, he was receiving CPR and in critical care.
“I was fortunate that I was at Scott & White when it happened,” he said. “I got the care I needed within minutes. The stress test isn’t to blame, that was just one step we used to care for my already damaged heart.”
Moving forward with his doctors, the plan was very simple for Larry. He would need a heart transplant because it was now too weak to sustain him on its own.
Waiting for a Heart
After the second heart attack, Larry was moved to the ICU and closely monitored for months. As a temporary fix he was implanted with a ventricular assist device. This was helpful, but also took some adjusting.
“It was a building process and an adapting process,” said Larry. He was working hard to strengthen his body to get back to doing simple things. He wore a controller on his waist, and if he went out, never wanted to go too far.
While spending time in the hospital, Larry’s wife Rebecca was always by his side. Despite suffering from Lupus for years, she was his care-giver and biggest supporter. He says she was a champ and would drag her heavy oxygen tank up to the fourth floor to spend time with him. Upon arriving, the nurses would hook her up to the hospital oxygen to give her a break and care for her as well.
“These nurses were fantastic. They would let us relax together and were always asking how we were doing,” says Larry. “You become friends with them, you know. They were just great.”
Undergoing a Heart Transplant
Larry was at home the night he got the phone call that a donated heart was available. He remembers the phone call and anxiously staring out the car window as his son drove him to the hospital in the middle of the night.
“Prior to the call, it wasn’t too stressful for me. I wasn’t constantly wondering, ‘Gee, are they going to get a heart for me?’ I was just trying to survive on what I had,” recalls Larry.
Larry’s doctors explained everything in detail and tried to alleviate any fears of going through a daunting surgical procedure. He said it was scary to know you’re going to have your old heart removed and a new one put in, and wondered if his body would accept the new organ.
“Me and my family, my friends, and my relatives, were all just amazed at the quality and the care I received,” says Larry. “It was just astounding. I can’t really describe how I feel about it.”
Scott & White surgeons performed Larry’s heart surgery and transplanted him with his replacement heart, thanks to an organ donor.
“I didn’t think of organ donation as much prior to this occurring to me,” says Larry.
“I didn’t think of organ donation as much prior to this occurring to me,” says Larry. “It’s one of those things that you think there are enough donors out there, but you don’t realize the impact an organ donor can have on people all over the country.”
Larry is full of gratitude for the young man who underwent an unfortunate accident, but despite passing away gave him the great gift of life.
A Full Heart Moving Forward
Larry says he now feels great. He has no issues and goes back for routine testing to ensure his body is continually receptive to the organ.
“I’m able to do just about anything I want now,” says Larry. He laughs and adds, “Of course I’m not running any marathons or anything like that.” He’s happy with his quality of life and is appreciative for the second chance he received.
Most of all, Larry appreciates the extra time he got to spend with his wife and sweetheart of 42 years. She passed away just months ago, leaving Larry with deep feelings of gratitude. He was glad he got a new heart so he could take his turn in caring for her as her health declined.
“For those who can donate their organs, my gosh, it’s just so important,” says Larry. “I don’t think people understand that. I didn’t understand that until it happened to me.”