Jessamine County father seeks heart transplant
A Jessamine County family is hoping for a miracle-match, as a genetic heart condition is slowly stealing the life of a 36-year-old father.
While waiting for a transplant, that family is raising awareness on the organ donor process, and explains that a family can list a recipient should their loved one pass away.
WDKY caught up with Justin Stewart and his wife Kelly in Harrodsburg on Saturday, as they prepared to cheer on their son in a little league game. The family made a stop at a nearby playground before the game, to enjoy time together.
Unlike most fathers his age, Stewart couldn't run after his 6-year-old son Easton, but he's hopeful one day that will change.
"It's a gene mutation that causes your heart to age rapidly," said Stewart. A genetic disorder that took his mother's life, as she waited for a donor that never came. What did arrive more than a decade later would thrust the Stewart family into an all too familiar place.
Another spot on the waiting list.
"We were building a home and I was doing some work, laying tile and stuff, and just started feeling really bad. Thought I had bronchitis or something," said Stewart.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, only three in one thousand people who die, pass in a way that allows for organ donations.
"I firmly believe it's something that you can't take with you when you could help another family, or you know, get to see life through somebody else. "
With summer-related water and boating accidents, car crashes, and other unexpected deaths happening across Kentucky, the Stewart family is reminding others that a part of their loved one can live on.
"You can't stop every tragedy but you can get a gift from a tragedy," said Stewart.
The father's failing heart now requires an IV and pump to keep him out of a hospital bed, and in the fresh air.
With the help of a donor, the IV can one day be a thing of the past, and Stewart will be able to keep up with all that life has to offer.
"I want to spend the rest of my life with him, and I want to grow old with him, and I want our kids to have their dad there and him to watch them graduate and move on with their lives," said Kelly Stewart.