At the top of the world

REMEMBER: Grand Rounds hosted at Adventures of a Funky Heart! on June 15, 2010! Entry Guidelines are HERE.

Paul Cardall felt water on his back as he climbed Mount Olympus just outside of Salt Lake City yesterday. Concerned, he checked his backpack for leaks. Wife Lynnette quickly found the source:

A few yards into Wednesday’s hike, Paul’s commemorative “Celebrate Life” hike T-shirt begins to soak. He checks his backpack for water leaks, but there are none. His wife, Lynnette, touches his back.

“It’s sweat,” she says.

“Sweat,” the professional pianist repeats. “A new thing for me.” – The Salt Lake Tribune

No one thought Paul could do it. Shoot, no one even thought he would be here. Last September Paul Cardall, Husband and Father, was reduced to a shell of a man as his tired overworked heart slowly wound down. Born with Tricuspid Atresia and Transposition of the Great Arteries, his heart defect didn’t care that he was an award-winning musician. It didn’t care that people all over the world were following his story through his blog, Living for Eden. It didn’t care the his wife and young daughter needed him. All it knew was that 1 in 125 people are born with a Congenital Heart Defect. On that day, at that time, and in that place, Paul was the One.

And now it was a race. A game of Beat the Clock with Paul’s heart as the clock. Find a donor heart quickly, get it to the hospital, and our side has a chance. Let the final seconds tick off the clock and – well, no one wanted to think about that. But Paul and Lynnette had sat down and had THE TALK. What happens if…?

The call came – on Christmas Eve! – but that heart had a problem and Paul was left waiting. Then nine months later, another call. This time everything was GO! and the transplant went smoothly. Heart 2.0 even began to beat on its own, not waiting for the electrical jolt that was supposed to start it. Nonplussed, the surgeon zapped it anyway.

Now the race was on again, but this time it was different. Doctors told Paul to expect a two month hospital stay to recover. Paul was out in two weeks.

It was in that hospital that Paul stood and stared at Mt. Olympus and promised that he would climb that mountain. Not one day, not someday, but on June 9. Exactly one year after his brother died, and less than a year after his heart transplant.

His doctors fainted. Well, all but one of them:

Though some of his doctors at Primary Children’s Medical Center had wondered aloud whether Paul could actually make the climb less than a year after the transplant, cardiologist Angela Yetman not only believed he could do it, “she started up the mountain after we did and caught up with us,” he said. – The Deseret News

Someone glanced at their watch when they hit the summit: 1:00 PM. Photographs were taken, a prayer was said, and there were hugs all around. But Paul hadn’t walked the final steps; hadn’t reached the peak. It seems like such a little thing, less than a foot away, but mountain climbers are a pretty insistent bunch. You either reach the peak, or you don’t. There is no almost.

Finally Paul stepped forward and placed his foot on the summit at 1:10 PM… the moment his brother passed.

Paul has a motto, just as I do. He will often say “Let’s Celebrate Life!” That’s your assignment for the weekend – celebrate your life, especially if you have a heart defect. My father grew up in a time when a child born with a Congenital Heart Defect lived a short, painful life. I live in a world where a heart transplant recipient can climb a mountain.

What will the Cardiac Kids of the future see?


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3 Responses to “At the top of the world”

  1. Amy Schroeder Says:

    As a mama of a kiddo waiting for a heart transplant, those were the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard! You give us hope, Paul!!

  2. Carrie Flynn Says:

    Cannot imagine what my little ❤ baby will be doing with his amazing and truly funky heart 40 years from now. Thanks for that inspiration.

  3. Karen Thurston Chavez Says:

    Beautiful, Steve!

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