Lubbock man needs a new heart for Valentine's Day - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/30/10

Lubbock man needs a new heart for Valentine's Day

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By Brittany Pieper  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - February is National Heart Awareness Month.  Each day several people put their names on a waiting list for a new heart because of heart disease.  It's one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Candy, balloons, and paper hearts all bring smiles on Valentine's Day, but how about a real heart, that's what Jim Fortenberry hopes for.  "It would be great!  It won't happen this year or this Valentines," said Jim Fortenberry. 

Doctors diagnosed Fortenberry with heart disease about 10 years ago following a go-cart accident. In November, his name joined thousands more on the waiting list for a heart transplant. "We got the news over Thanksgiving that he was indeed going to be on the list so that was quite a good, wonderful Thanksgiving blessing. I guess you could say to have that news. So we are just waiting, you know, it's a everyday it's just a wonder," said Fortenberry's daughter Mandi Whitten. 

"There is a great demand for hearts.  So I don't really project anytime real soon," said Fortenberry. He has a long wait ahead of him, but he says it's worth it if it could give him a second chance at life. "We've gone through all of the testing for the heart transplant and you just have to work your way up through the system and hope to survive until then," he said.

It's a costly process. Fortenberry says a heart usually cost about $500,000 and he has to provide at least $25,000 of that. To pay for it his family will hold fundraisers and try to enjoy life and each other in the mean time. "It's hard with our busy schedules and all that, but we don't take things for granted," said Whittin. 

"I'm very blessed, you know if things didn't work out I still fulfilled a lot of dreams that I had, but I'm very hopeful," said Fortenberry. 

You can look for fund raisers in honor of Jim Fortenberry around the Lubbock area later this year.  If you would like to make a donations in his name you can (click here).

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