Man denied 3rd heart transplant on quest for donors

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Nate Collins and his wife Jamie Gibson are a couple in love. Recently married and looking forward to a future, he’s now looking for something else.

“I’m looking for treatment options, an artificial heart, anything that could extend my life,” Collins said.

Collins found out in college 23 years ago he had enlarged heart. It’s genetic. His first transplant was in 1994 when he was 20 years old. Rejection set in and by 2002, Nate received a second transplant.

That heart fell in love with Gibson. They married in October 2016 and expanded their family to three when they welcomed their soon-to-be-adopted son Mason on Dec. 6.

“He was in the NICU two weeks after he was born,” Collins said.

That’s when Collins noticed something wasn’t quite right. A heart filled with love fell into crisis.

“They did a heart procedure and found out I had something called cardiomyopathy. After a certain amount of time, the muscle in the heart starts to stiffen,” he said.

Collins would need a third heart transplant and a hospital to put him back on the list. Meanwhile, a virus caused his kidneys to quit, requiring dialysis. Through the struggle, there was good news: the date came up to finalize our adoption with Mason.

“We went to the courthouse. We were having a great day and finally adopted, driving home, having a wonderful time.” Collins said.

His phone rang. It was the hospital.

“They told me they decided they weren’t going to list me for another transplant,” Collins said.

Elation turned into fear.

“We were in shock. We’re scared,” he said. “The doctor couldn’t tell me how long I would live.”

The family is using precious moments to raise awareness about organ donation. Collins sent his medical information to other hospitals, waiting to hear if one would take his case.

“We are not giving up by any means,” he said. “I swore on the stand I’d take care of him, and I don’t know how long that’s going to be now.”

Not long after our interview, Collins found a hospital that may take his case. He finished an evaluation with Temple University Hospital. Collins says the transplant committee is considering his case on Wednesday and he’s cautiously optimistic.


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