Saturday, March 22, 2008

ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE

If anyone needs proof that the statement, "Once a Marine, Always a Marine" is true, just continue to watch and read this amazing story.

 

Marine heart transplant recipient meets with family of donor

abc7news Chicago

Friday, March 21, 2008 | 6:41 PM


A Rockford heart transplant patient has learned that his life was saved by a fellow Marine.

Ricky Martinez, 22, was shot and killed after leaving a Cubs game in Chicago almost two years ago. His father spoke out Friday about the decision to turn their loss into a life-saving gift for another Marine.

Ricky Martinez will be honored at a special ceremony Saturday by veterans groups who will be remembering not only his service in Iraq, but also the gift he made after his death: his heart. The recipient of that gift, Brian Troy, will be there.

Ricky Martinez's picture is always with his father on the tag he wears around his neck. Ricardo Martinez, Sr. can barely talk about the death of his son two years later without choking up. That is why he wanted badly to talk with the person who carries his son's donated heart.

RRSTAR.COM
Posted Mar 19, 2008 @ 11:52 AM
ROCKFORD —

Ricky Martinez knew he was headed for a war zone when he became a Marine. He knew his life would be on the line.

But after watching the devastation caused by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Martinez signed up anyway.

As it happened, Martinez survived two tours in Iraq. It was five months later, after he had returned home and applied to become a police officer, that he was killed. Allegedly mistaken for a gang member, the 23-year-old was shot in the streets of Chicago after going to a Cubs game.

The tragedy stole his future and left his family devastated. Yet, in his death, Martinez managed one final, selfless act: He donated his heart to a man he had never met.

‘Most unimaginable call’
Rockford electrician Brian Troy was at the top of the waiting list for a heart transplant on the day Martinez was shot. Troy had just finished a two-month hospital stay, during which he had spent 30 days in a coma and lost 40 pounds.

Troy has a genetic problem that caused an irregular heartbeat and eventually an enlarged heart. Troy’s mother died at 51 from heart ailments; his grandfather had a stroke when he was 43. Troy was 41 years old, had been sick for more than three years and was deteriorating rapidly. He needed a new heart soon.

“I just knew it was something I was going to have to go through,” he said. “There was an acceptance there that either I’m going to make it or I’m not.”

Troy struggled with the idea that getting a new heart — his greatest wish — meant that someone else would meet an untimely death. It didn’t seem natural to take someone else’s heart.

And yet every time he fell short of breath, Troy was reminded he would leave a wife and two children behind when his heart gave out. So the only question left in his mind was whether one would become available soon enough.

Then early on a Sunday morning, as his wife changed his bandages, the telephone rang. On the other end was a nurse at Chicago’s Loyola Hospital, telling the Troys to get there right away.

“That was the most unimaginable call,” Troy said. “Wow, I’m going in and getting a new heart.”

The couple raced to get dressed and sped down the highway to arrive at the hospital two hours later. Troy says he wasn’t nervous heading into surgery, even though he knew the risks associated with a heart transplant were high.

“I was at peace,” he said. “I had faith that whatever was going to happen was going to be the right thing.”

And so, as the Martinez family mourned, Troy went into the operating room for the 11-hour surgery that would give him Ricky’s heart. When Troy woke from the surgery, he opened his eyes and realized that, for the first time in months, he finally felt hungry.

It was a good sign.

Recovery and saying ‘thank you’

In the months ahead, Troy began to gain strength. He put on weight, became an enthusiastic advocate for organ donation and was overwhelmed with gratitude for Ricky Martinez.

Four months after the transplant, he sent a letter to the Martinez family. He sympathized with their loss and thanked them for his heart. When more than a year had passed with no response, Troy sent a second letter. This time, the Martinez family responded, and they wanted to meet him.

“It was just supposed to be a private meeting at first,” Troy said. “But I had done a Donate Life (organ donation) event and did an interview with 23 News. So all three of the networks were out here for our meeting.”

When seven members of the Martinez family walked into the Troys’ Rockford home earlier this year, the meeting was a flurry of activity. There were news interviews to be done and introductions to be made. Then once the television cameras had cleared, the Martinez family and the Troy family sat down together.

Ricky’s mother placed her hand on Troy’s chest, letting herself feel the beat of her son once again.

“We sat at the table and talked about all sorts of stuff,” Troy said. “They had pictures and a family album for us to browse through.”

The meeting left Troy with an even greater appreciation for the heart that sustains him. He wants to live his life in a way that honors Ricky Martinez.

“Not only did I get a heart, but I got a very honorable heart,” he said. “It makes it very easy for me to dedicate my life to keeping his memory alive.”

To that end, Troy’s days now are filled with work to promote organ and tissue donation. He’s knocked on doors, passed out fliers and organized events — all in the hopes that just one more person will become a donor.

After all, it only took one to save his life.


 

Filed under Marines, Military, Patriotic, Troop Support by

Comments on ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE »

Saturday, March 22, 2008
(Pingback)

ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE | Dompo Mom @ 8:04 am

[...] Janice wrote an interesting post today onHere's a quick excerptMarine heart transplant recipient meets with family of donor. Friday, March 21, 2008 | 6:41 PM. [...]

Monday, March 24, 2008

blacktygrrrr @ 7:52 pm

Ms. Patriotic Mom,

This story is fabulous! I saw it on Fox News over the weekend. I will be blogging about it tomorrow, and linking to your site. I want my readers to see what a great site looks like.

If you would like to be on my blogroll, please let me know. I definitely would like to be on yours.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Respectfully,

eric aka the Tygrrrr Express
http://www.blacktygrrrr.wordpress.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

pamelareece @ 6:57 pm

eric,

Right (pun intended) back attcha!! I Linked over to your website.

Pamela Reece

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