Man Celebrates 20 Years After Heart Transplant

Man Celebrates 20 Yearts After Heart Transplant
By: Carly O'Keefe

SESSER, Ill. - Twenty years ago, Ronnie Lamczyk could never imagine he'd be alive to hold his granddaughter's hand, or stand next to his teenage grandson as he feeds fish at the farm pond.  That's because 20 years ago Lamczyk had to make a choice: undergo a heart transplant, or succumb to a disease that attacked his heart.
"I caught cardiomyopathy, and they said it was from a cold.  Actually all it does is cause the heart to inflate," said Lamczyk. "It hits a guy hard because, out of nowhere, it's like time's come to an end."
Doctors told Lamczyk that his swelling heart could burst at any time, and that his only option to continue living was to undergo a heart transplant.
"The doctors told me 'it will give you probably five years', well five years is better than zip, so I took it," said Lamczyk.
The transplanted heart has lasted 15 years longer than doctors predicted, but Lamczyk says he doesn't plan to give up living at this 20-year milestone.
"I don't think I ever quit, I just keep on, I've got so much to live for," said Lamczyk.
"It's been wonderful, we've had our two children get married and have kids, and have been able to be with him.  We wouldn't have had that chance if he didn't get this heart," said Barb Lamczyk, Ronnie's wife.
While he doesn't know whose heart saved his life, Lamczyk knows he wouldn't be here today had it not been for an organ donor.
"I sometimes think, if I ever saw him, what would I say to the guy who donated his heart? What could I say?" said Lamczyk.
Sunday August 19 will mark 20 years to the day since Lamczyk's transplant.  He says he could never say 'thank you' enough to the organ donor for the 20 extra years he's been given to spend with his family.