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2014 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar: Chuck Kiehl

Chuck serves as volunteer photographer at events that promote organ donation.Chuck isn't the kind of guy who is used to being in "wait mode." He has a "Let's do it!" approach to life that made him a successful furniture salesman and a beloved great uncle who loved to wrestle and tease his nieces and nephews.

 

At age 54, when Chuck got a bad head cold that went to his chest, he felt exhausted and out of breath but he thought he had walking pneumonia. However, as his illness progressed, he learned that a virus had attacked his heart. He was told he was in stage four heart failure.

 

An otherwise healthy man, Chuck was told he would be a good candidate for transplant. He received a pacemaker, defibrillator and medication and was put on the wait list for a new heart. 

 

"I always had the donor dot on my license so I could be a donor for someone else," said Chuck," but not once did I think I would ever get so sick that I would need a transplant myself."

 

Because Chuck was never good at sitting still, he tries to keep busy even now while he waits for the call to transplant. He needs to nap once a day, and must make sure he takes his medication, but he spends his time giving back to the transplant community.

 

He supports organ donation education and awareness efforts by teaching organ donation lessons to driver's education students, talking to nursing classes and church groups, and by serving as a photographer at events that promote organ donation. His goal is to get all of the people he speaks with registered as organ donors.

 

"I'm 6'4" and it might be awhile before I get a heart," Chuck said, "but if I can help someone else get transplanted, so be it."