One year after receiving a heart transplant, Tyler Montgomery proposed to his girlfriend, Keverly Pike, in the Stiller-Blackburn Multi-Organ Transplant Unit — the same place where he was given a second chance at life.
“It was crazy,” said Pike. “We were just supposed to go to his biopsy for his one-year and then go home. And then it happened and it was a lot of emotion.”
Montgomery wanted the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) to be involved after all of their hard work and dedication.
“I wanted to include the LHSC team in the proposal because without the constant maintenance of my heart, making sure it’s in tip-top shape, I wouldn’t really have the heart, as you could say, to give,” said Montgomery.
One of the team members who helped co-ordinate everything was Grant Fisher, transplant co-ordinator at University Hospital.
“This is our thank you,” said Fisher. “Honestly, to see something like this, the goals and life milestones, this is why we do this.”
Fisher said that when families sign a donor card and give their organs to someone in need, this is what it does — it gives somebody else a second chance at life.
In Montgomery’s case, a heart transplant is a rather serious transplant procedure, as the “engine” of the body. But Fisher said Montgomery recovered rather quickly in hospital following the procedure.
“Typically somebody who has a transplant will spend anywhere from seven days up to 21 days in the hospital,” Fisher said.
Montgomery was out in six days.
“It was really a remarkable recovery on his part, due in large part to youth, but probably equally, if not more, due to his determination to get back to a normal life.”
When Montgomery found out he needed a heart transplant, he was shocked. It happened so quickly; one day he was lifting shingles to take them to his crew at work, and three months later, he was walking out of the hospital with a new heart.
“I didn’t realize exactly how sick I was, and I don’t think a lot of other people realized either,” said Montgomery. “It was very emotional, very nerve-wracking. But I knew I had to keep my head straight and stay positive.”
While he was in the hospital, he listened to motivational podcasts and he made sure he was getting out of his bed and going for a walk every day.
“Getting the recovery early on and not having complications, such as infection or major problems with rejecting the transplanted organ, then things can go very well,” said Fisher. “But we really commend the work done by the patients who have to go through this. They’re the ones who do the hard part after we do our job.”
Now that Montgomery was given more life to live, it has changed the way he goes about his day to day.
“I no longer stress over the small things,” Montgomery said. “I learned the hard way just how fragile life and time can be and it taught me to enjoy those rainy days, enjoy that sunrise, sunset loop.”
He added that his outlook on life did a complete 180, becoming more positive.
“There’s no more negativity, the cup is always half full no matter what. I refuse to give up because I was blessed with a second chance.”