In the span of eight hours, Patrick Holland went from excitement to hope to crushing disappointment after a major winter storm caused him to miss a life-saving heart transplant procedure.
Holland, a father of 7 who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, is battling congestive heart failure. After a year of waiting, he was added to the transplant list on December 5, his wife Haley Holland published in a Facebook page chronicle of his trip. She said she had a flight booked to Seattle, where the surgery would take place, but they were waiting for a call from doctors at the Heart Institute at the UW Medical Center in Montlake to say a heart was available.
They received that call last Thursday, the same day that parts of the country were being hit by a deadly winter storm.
Patrick Holland, who is in his early 50s, told NBC affiliate King 5 of Seattle that doctors gave him an eight-hour window to get from Fairbanks to the hospital. He immediately headed to the airport only to learn that his Alaska Airlines flight had been canceled due to bad weather in Seattle.
After hearing his story, the airline immediately put him on the next flight. Patrick Holland told the news station that he was in the air for four hours when the pilot made an announcement: the plane was being diverted to Anchorage.
While in Anchorage, three of his flights were canceled and the 8-hour window closed.
“I think I cried more that day than in my life,” he told King 5.
His wife said in a Facebook post that because there are so many flights between Fairbanks and Seattle, they didn’t think getting to the hospital on time would be a problem. Missing the opportunity to have the surgery has been devastating, she said.
“Numerous times their hopes and dreams rose to staggering heights, then collapsed to the lowest depths of nightmarish proportions, often in the blink of an eye,” Haley Holland posted.
She said the family is still waiting to get another call that doctors have found a heart. Meanwhile, Patrick Holland will stay in Washington state to be closer to the hospital.
Patrick Holland told King 5 that getting a new heart would give him a chance to live another 10, 20, or even 30 years.
“I can’t wait for the day when I get the transplant and I can enjoy life again,” he said.