ROCHESTER, Minn. - It's the very organ that keeps you alive, but more than once it has failed Rob Staves.
In fact, his heart nearly led to his demise. Now, thanks to a generous gift of life he is recovering from a heart transplant and receiving a second chance at life.
Stave's story is about so much more than just his recovery it's about the gift of life. At the age of eight, Rob lost his older brother to a drunk driver. It is all the more proof in Stave's life that nothing is guaranteed.
In March of 2018, Staves died for 2-minutes and 12-seconds.
"I'm not dizzy anymore, I'm not short of breath. I feel good I'm working out in the gym at cardiac rehab. Now it feels like a second chance," said Staves.
KIMT caught up with Staves at the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester. In May of 2019, he received a heart transplant, but it wasn't without a clouded conscience.
"You think, yeah, I'm sitting here waiting for someone to die so I can get a heart and that is pretty heavy on a person's mind their psyche a little bit. I mean somebody has to pass before I can go forward," explained Staves.
While waiting for a new heart Stave's daughters were his motivation to keep going.
"I have 3 little girls. I have a 14, 10 and 6 year old. I definitely wanted to be around to watch them grow up and now I can," said Staves.
As he regains strength at the Gift of Life Staves remarked on how fickle life, like flowers in the summer heat, can be.
"When you're done, you're done. You can't take it with you. Why not help somebody," asked Staves. At the age of 16 he signed up to be an organ donor never thinking years later he would be the one in need of an organ donation.
Nationally 114,000 people are waiting for the gift of life, according to Donate Life America.
Doctor Alfredo Clavell oversees Mayo's Heart Transplant Program. Dr. Clavell said he can't stress the importance of being a donor.
"There is only so many limited numbers of hearts available every year for transplant and there is 5-times more patients waiting who need them," said Dr. Clavell.
For those lucky enough to receive a heart, like Staves, it's a blessing, but it does come with an expiration date.
"The average survival of patients with heart transplants is 11-years," explained Dr. Clavell.
Aside from an expiration date, or the what if's in life, Staves is focused on the future and spending time with his children and living in what he called "paradise".
"It might sound kind of silly but I'm thinking about my 3-year goal. I think I want to move to St. Thomas Virgin Islands and live there. (laughs). Honestly no more winter, no more headache, live in paradise!" exclaimed Staves.
Staves is hopeful he will be given the all-clear to head home to Wisconsin, in August.
Rob's diagnosis, Cardiac Sacrodosis, is a fairly rare disorder. Dr. Clavell said the auto-immune disorder causes people to progressively lose heart functions.
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