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Second chances

by | Sep 6, 2023 | Latest, news

Two-time heart transplant recipient, Gynovel Henry, withDr. Abigail Souryl at UT Southwestern prior to undergoing surgery in April that also included a kidney transplant. Courtesy photo

Gynovel Henry is alive today because some people cared enough to donate the gift of life.

The 53-year-old transplant patient has been blessed with two perfect heart donor matches in the last five years — and one kidney— beating the odds in a game where they are often stacked against them.

Each year, over 200,000 people die waiting for the perfect organ match, and, in Gynovel’s case, he had an additional hurdle to overcome both times.

“Being tall is not a good thing when it comes to transplants because not a lot of people donate,” the 6’3” Wylie resident said. “And there’s not a lot of tall people out there who donate… and you can’t put a little engine in a big body.”

Gynovel’s decades-long medical journey is one of survival, strength and faith.

In late January 2018, after 30-plus years of suffering with atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure prompted by a childhood illness, Gynovel checked into UT Southwestern to begin a long-awaited transplant journey.

“When I finally went in, I was ready,” he said. The team of doctors and nurses at the hospital said he needed to get his things in order. “Writing my will hardest thing I did.” 

Gynovel got weaker every day and was on the precipice of losing hope when he received his donor heart in late March.

 The recovery was an extremely painful process, said Gynovel, but when he left the hospital in early May with his sister Keysha by his side, he knew he had work to do to reach key benchmarks in order to survive his first year.

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