Clay Yates

Clay Yates

Date of Birth: 1/15/1988

Date of Organ Donation: 8/30/2019

Organ Donation story:

I was diagnosed with heart failure on July 11, 2019. It was just the month prior to the diagnosis that I started to notice shortness of breath and mild fatigue.

I first experienced it when on vacation in Colorado, but assumed it was due to the elevation, etc. However, when we returned home the shortness of breath worsened, especially when lying down to sleep at night. After consulting with family in the medical field, I decided to head to the doctor.

The nurse practitioner I spoke with was also very concerned with my symptoms. She ordered a CT scan with contrast to be completed at Memorial in Springfield. Little did I know this would be my first of many CT scans. I returned to work after completing the testing. I expected they would call in a few days with little to report. I was wrong.

I’m a real estate agent and I was on my way to show a house when I received the call from Memorial. The voice on the other end of the phone was seemingly nervous to tell me the results. She informed me that my heart was enlarged, and my lungs were taking on fluid. She insisted I got to the emergency room right away. As you can imagine, this came as quite a surprise.

Within a few hours of that phone call, I was admitted to Memorial with a diagnosis of heart failure. The next few days were full of testing, medications, and more testing. I was eventually transferred by ambulance to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. This turned out to be my home away from home for the next two months.

The doctors at Barnes were fantastic. It was obvious that they were seeing several heart failure patients each day. This brought a sense of confidence that I was in the right place. I would be in and out of the hospital for the next few weeks, staying in close communication with my cardiologist.

The plan was to try a series of medications to improve my heart function. Unfortunately, the meds did not work as we had hoped. I would soon be admitted to Barnes for the last time. Fortunately, this time I was able to have my dad drive me down and not have to ride in the back of an ambulance. For me, this car ride felt different. I knew my health was deteriorating quickly. Simply walking to the truck was a chore. That was never the case before.

A few days later I was told that I was a great candidate for a heart transplant. That is when things got hard for my wife and family. No one expected this would ever be the case. Unfortunately, it had been lurking in the back of my mind for the couple of weeks prior.

I was placed on the transplant list on Monday, August 26th, 2019. I was placed towards the top of the list based on the severity of my condition. By that Friday I was wheeled down the hall by a team of doctors to receive my new heart. The surgery took 10 hours to complete. Luckily, I was asleep, so it just felt like a few minutes to me. Ha. I cannot imagine the stress and anxiety experienced by my family as they huddled in the ICU waiting room waiting for the call.

The first few moments after I woke up were likely the best my life. I had made it. I was of confident in the team of doctors, but there were many what ifs to think about. Being greeted by my wife, kids, and family was very special to say the least.

It was now time for me to put in the work to recover. I began doing breathing exercises and walking every day, every couple of hours. I returned home just eight days after receiving my new heart. The picture with my wife and kids was taken just minutes after I arrived home. This photo will always be close to my heart. No pun intended.

Family and other personal information you wish to share:

Jenna (wife), Easton and Reid (sons)

Caron and Greg (Parents)

Brett and Tiffany (brother and sister)

I am very fortunate to have had my family with me every step of the way. They spent countless hours in the hospital with me. Each of them played their own role in the process. All were appreciated.

Any other information you wish to share about Organ Donation:

I am here today because of someone’s selfless decision to become an organ donor. I can never repay this person, but I will do my best to make them proud by spreading awareness for Organ Donation.

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