From Failing Heart to Transplant: The Hartz of Shelly Artz

A remarkable patient heart transplant story

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Sixty-nine year old Shelly Artz, MD, once said of transplant recipients, “Every one has a story.” But few have stories as good as Dr. Artz’ own “Tale of Three Hearts”. Scoot back to 2002. After several heart attacks, Dr. Artz’ heart was failing.   Only a heart transplant could save his life.

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Shelly Artz received a heart transplant, and unfortunately, the heart that he had received was failing. Within 24 hours he was given a second chance, and Shelly received a healthy heart. Not only did Shelly view this as a second chance to receive a heart, but he also saw it as a send chance on a life without limitations.

Shoot forward to 2010. Shelly Artz is a competitor in the Transplant Olympic Games, sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation, held in Madison, Wisconsin. More than 1,500 transplant athletes were there.   The rest of the story is told in Jan and Shelly’s words in this letter:

Dear Family and Dear Friends!

We have just returned from the wonderfully emotional experience of attending the Transplant Olympic Games sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin.

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First we thank all of you who so generously donated to allow (now we know) 4 transplant recipients to participate in these Games on Team Ohio! They graciously thanked US for fundraising and we pass that thanks on to YOU! We thank you again … for them!

The Opening Ceremonies were emotional and high spirited. Larry Hagman, among others, hosted beautifully. Laughter and tears and cheers as each State was announced and the teams marched in!! Music, stories, history…. a great beginning. The week long activities list was amazing. Everything from ballroom dancing to track and field, swimming, 3 on 3 basketball, tennis, and on and on. EveryONE from Shelly’s age to young dads and moms with their families cheering on the sidelines to the little kids themselves! So totally and beautifully inclusive and exciting! The top athletes truly train during the 2 years leading up to the games….and you can TELL who they are! And the closing ceremonies honored and celebrated and entertained right to the end with everyone pouring onto the floor to dance to good ol rock ‘n roll. Smiles and laughter and congratulations everywhere!

Now you want to know what happened with Shelly …. right? 😀

Shelly took a hard won Silver Medal in the Men’s 60 age group Singles Tennis…. losing a tough final match to a young kid (62 :-)) who out steadied him.

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The next hot sweaty day took him and his 49 year old partner, John Heaney, (who won a gold in his Singles bracket the previous day) into the 4o’s age Doubles bracket. After beating the other teams in that age bracket and assuring themselves of a Gold medal, they were pitted against the champions from the 18-35 age group just for the sake of playing. ha ha ha ha ha! Throwing all caution to the wind, with nothing to lose, and exhausted and sweaty from playing for 2 days….. they were down 2-zip . (insert theme to “Rocky” at this point) ….. Their game faces were on, the belly bumping was wild, the score rose to : 3-2; 4-2; 5-2; 6-2; 7-2; 8-2!!!! A SOLID victory performance for the old guys! It was Wild! The grins never stopped and the young team from Illinois were graciously astounded!!!! A perfect ending to a perfect week!! Yes we were all just trembling!

Thanks to all of YOU for your amazing support, cheers, friendship and the happiness you sent with us. I’ve attached just a couple of photos to share the grins. I do believe Shelly will start training for 2012…. after all, they’ll be gunning for him! And he’ll be the Youngest in his age bracket by then! What a guy!

Love to you all,
Jan and Gold/Silver Medalist Shelly xoxo

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