We continue to be inspired by recipients like Patrick Donnelly, who is patiently waiting for a new heart. In the meantime his family and friends along with DAWG Nation surprised him with a check on December 2, 2021 to help him continue his journey. We are all inspired by Nigel Richardson (heart transplant) and Andy Gerrie (cancer survivor) as they shared important messages about maintaining hope and the power of a loving community. Thank you to Patrick’s family and friends for coming out to watch the Avs and surround Patrick with some much needed love. We have since issued another check to Patrick as donations continued after the check presentation.
Patrick has been a staple at DAWG events since being a recipient. He was there to help present a check and offer encouragement to Mike McLean who suffered a major attack. He has been back on the ice to help Van Stone retake the ice after a severe traumatic brain injury. As a guest on the DAWGPOD, Patrick was able to tell his heart story and offer encouragement for others awaiting organ donations. He has even skated on the Heart DAWGS for the DAWG Nation Winter Classic alongside other survivors. Patrick is always ready to help add the community love to all the events we have done since his check presentation.
In the summer of 2011, Patrick was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, Cardiomyopathy (swelling of heart tissue). He was 22 and forced to pause his new career in Texas for the first time. He returned home, to Colorado, via Ambulance and was received by the Cardiology team at University of Colorado Hospital. His heart function, measured as an “Ejection Fraction,” was at a dismal 9%. Eventually, through use of medications, they were able to stabilize and even partially recover left ventricle function.
Patrick returned to chase his career goals in Oil and Gas about 6 months later and spent the next 8 years grinding and chasing opportunities in the industry he loves. From shoveling sand on up to leadership roles and consulting, Patrick enjoyed his return to work and his heart was responding. At one point he had achieved an Ejection Fraction as high as 42% (an average healthy heart would be around 60%).
In early 2019 however, his body became weak again, the fluid retention from failing kidneys made it incredibly difficult to breathe. His heart was no longer responding to the medication as well as it had for the last 8 years. After a few hard months of testing and monitoring, it was decided that his heart was too far gone, and it was time for a transplant.
While transplants are surprisingly safe these days, the larger concern was the time that it takes to receive an organ offer. The trouble was, Patrick didn’t have time, and the hospital was preparing him for hospice care. Fortunately, a final set of testing showed his right-side heart function to be strong enough to accommodate what’s called an LVAD or (Left Ventricle Assist Device.) Implanting this pump has bought him the time he needed to receive a new heart, as well as greatly improve the quality-of-life.
Patrick’s been accruing time on the transplant list for a full year now, with no real idea of when a heart could come. Determined not to let life pass him by, he has started skating again, doing local stick-and-pucks at The Edge, which inspired him to hit the gym and get back into shape as best as he can. This has led to cardiologists from the transplant team at UCHealth incorporating him in research studies surrounding exercise and LVADs.
Hockey was a family affair growing up for Patrick. He learned to skate on a pond outside of Chicago at 4 years old. Patrick and his younger brother played travel hockey all over the US with trips to Canada and Europe sprinkled in over the years. Hockey bound his family together and still does. His career culminated with a Major A, 2nd place finish in State with Foothills Hockey Association in 2006. Patrick played three years of Varsity hockey with Chatfield Senior High School and was proud to represent the Chargers on the ice.