|About Us||Patients, Families & Visitors||For Health Professionals||Careers||Research & Training||Ways to Give|
My name is Dan Kobylka and I reside in Chatham, Ontario. I have had two heart transplant surgeries. One was performed in 1989 and the other in 2000. I was a healthy 26-year-old in the Fall of 1981. I had finished up university and was preparing to take on the world. I was physically active and competed in long-distance running and wrestling competitively and curled and golfed recreationally. I coached little league baseball as well. During that fateful Fall, I began to lose my strength and developed what I thought was a serious case of the flu. My condition worsened over the Fall and on Christmas Eve I was diagnosed with virally-induced myocarditis, which is a very serious form of heart disease. With medications, lifestyle changes, and of course a healthy dose of prayer, I was able to return to a normal life within a year.
Seven years later, my heart began to fail again as the stresses of life caused it to increase in size and weaken again. This time the medications did not work and I was offered the only available option, heart transplant surgery. I knew I was dying by this point and only the skill of the doctors at London Health Sciences Centre and the love and generosity of a grieving family could save my life. Fortunately, a heart came for me just in time. My postoperative rehabilitation went very well and I was able to return to a normal life, which included work, volunteering and most importantly assuming the role of father and husband in every sense of the word. I was also able to return to coaching baseball and was able to extend the good fortune of my transplant to children with disabilities when I developed a baseball program that would meet their individual needs.
Everything went well for me for seven years when it was discovered that my coronary arteries were becoming blocked. Within two years this situation was at a crisis stage and it was decided that the only way I would be able to survive was to be retransplanted. I was eventually listed and was retransplanted eight weeks later. This time the course of recovery was more difficult, however. Just as God “blessed” me with a weak heart, He blessed me with a stronger body and will. A donor family once again saved my life and so far has given me another six years of productive life. They have not only given me six years of life, they gave me my Soul Mate. My Soul Mate is the person that received the liver from my donor or, as she would say, I received the heart from her donor. My donor families have not only given me 16 years of life in this world, they also in a very real way have given me eternity as they provided me with the time necessary to discover Jesus Christ as my personal saviour and redeemer.
The picture of me that is displayed on this quilt was taken of me about 10 months after my surgery at York University in Toronto while participating in the 1990 Canada Transplant Games. After my surgery I never really felt the need to prove anything to anyone except myself. By this time I had returned to work, had re-entered coaching and was able to fulfill my role as husband and father. The one thing that I had left to prove was that I could be a competitive athlete again. The Transplant Games gave me a chance to do that. The Transplant Games are athletic events for people with transplanted organs. The medals I was fortunate to win now reside in my hometown hospital where they serve as a visible reminder to the nursing staff of the support they gave to my wife and me when I was so ill.
Genesis 12, verses 1-3 tells the story of God’s covenant with Abraham that he would bless him and his descendants so that they may be a blessing to other nations. God has blessed me in many ways so that I may be a blessing to others. My story at first may seem like a story of illness and trial but I see it as a story of triumph of the human spirit, determination, the compassion of two families, and God’s love.