Donation Essentials Blog

Inspirational Story of Hope – Joe Kovarik’s Heart Transplant

January’s Inspirational Story of Hope

Joe Kovarik knows that he wouldn’t be alive today had it not been for the generosity of a woman he had never met, on what was possibly the saddest day of her life.

Diagnosed with a genetic heart disease in 1990, Joe continued to work for a decade. He went on disability in 2000 once he could no longer meet the demands of his travel-intensive job. He was placed on the waiting list for a new heart that December. In July of 2001, he successfully received a transplant. The donor was a 17-year-old boy who died of a stroke after failing to recognize the symptoms of altitude sickness on an outward-bound expedition in the Rockies.

“His name was Scott, and he was a typical active, young teenager searching for his identity,” Joe said. “He had found what he wanted, and he wanted to pursue a career in the outdoors.”

Scott’s mother traveled from her home in Oregon. She made the courageous decision to donate her son’s organs. And because of that generosity, Joe now gets to live life to the fullest in his golden years.

His favorite activities include exploring new locations for his landscape photography, visiting his grandchildren at their home in Georgia, taking them on hikes and watching them participate in school activities, volunteering with Donor Alliance, and always staying in touch with Scott’s mother.

“I too love the outdoors and do extensive hiking and nature photography through Colorado, Utah, and Georgia,” he said. “When I stand on a ridge photographing a beautiful view, I’m convinced that Scott is there enjoying the scene right along with me.”

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