Road to Recovery: Rare Heart-Kidney Recipient Shares His Story

Jack Tillery is a man of incredible faith, gratefulness and humility.  After suffering his first heart attack in 1997 at the age of 40, Jack was diagnosed with aggressive malignant arteriolosclerosis. For the next 12 years, he suffered several cardiac complications that eventually led to heart and kidney failure.

Jack was told he had one year to live and was placed on the National Transplant waiting list for a heart and kidney, an uncommon procedure that averages about 70-80 procedures nationwide per year.

Here is Jack’s unbelievable story of perseverance and continued journey to promote organ donation.

A very faithful and devout Christian minister, I trusted the Lord to heal my body in God's timing and perfect way. On November 14, 2009, I received a life-saving heart and kidney transplant.

Before the transplant, my doctors told me that even if I got a new heart and kidney, no one could promise me a long life, but the goal was the gift of quality of life again. As was before transplant, life continues to be an adventure for me and my family and the hope of quality has been far more than I could imagine.

Being able to see my children graduate with their college and master degrees, to participate on mission trips nationally and internationally, to share life with my wife, and to be able to declare the goodness of the Lord in the gifts He made possible through my donor Mike--life has been so fulfilling.

In 2011, I began promoting organ and tissue donation for Donate Life Louisiana. I’ve embarked in an organ donor awareness journey, riding my bike on a 262 mile, seven-day trek across Louisiana.

Receiving a transplant is the first part of the journey; whereas, taking care of that gift is the challenge of the second part of the journey. Yes, there have been challenges, but at least now I feel like I have a strong heart and a good kidney from which to fight those challenges.

To be in the fight, you have to have someone good in your corner who believes in you, gives you guidance, and encourages you--the Ochsner Heart and Kidney Transplant Teams have been that to me and I will always be thankful for the impact they have had on my life and will have on my life in the future."

Jack Tillery