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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Every day was a bonus: Heart transplant survivor

John Scripter's heart was failing. Without a transplant, he had six months to live, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said. With a transplant, he had a chance to live five years.

John, then a 45-year-old manual laborer from Greenville, New Hampshire, asked his cardiac surgeon how many heart transplant he had performed. The answer: None. John would be the first.

John underwent the novel surgery in 1985, giving him 22 more years of life. He died Friday, after spending the afternoon with one of his nine children.

"After five years, every day was a bonus," said his wife of 46 years. "It was a day that he might not have had. We lived every day like it was the last. It was still scary because it was a whole new avenue. And he got a second chance. He was so fortunate. We had our good times, we had our bad times. He said, 'You know, I've had it all. It's wonderful. I've seen everything. I've seen my kids grow up. I've seen their kids.'"

Life wasn't easy; John was not able to return to work. He battled heart infections caused by his heart medications, said his cardiac surgeon. He lost his right leg to infection in March.

But he never gave up, said his wife Linda. "He said, 'Look, fit me for an artificial leg and I’ll keep going.'"

Advice: Live every day like it's the last one.

Browse for related stories in the index at the very bottom of this page, or read a story from a blog about zestful living in the bonus round.

Thanks to Anna Badkhen for the source article in yesterday's Boston Globe.

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