30 years of saving lives at Seton Medical Center

Over the past three decades, Seton Medical Center has performed nearly 400 heart transplants and saved lives with the help of registered organ donors.

One of those that have been helped is Walter Stevens who says that every day is a blessing.

"Look at me, how it's helped me. You can help so many other people with all the different organs you can donate. You can help so many people,' Stevens says.

Stevens wasn't expected to live another year. He underwent a heart transplant in March 1991 and is still going strong. He says it's all thanks to his donor and Seton Medical Center.

"My donor was a 15-year-old girl. She had just turned 15 years old and my only child, a daughter, turned 15 four days after I got my transplant. So they were about the same age. Over the years I kind of look at what my daughter's doing...she graduated from high school, went to the University of Texas and met her husband, graduated from there, they've got an mba. Given me two grandkids. So during that time it's been a blessing to have the transplant live these extra 25 years to see all this take place," Stevens says.

Stevens is one of the longest living heart transplant recipients in Central Texas. It was in 1986 when Seton performed their very first one.

"Look at what we can accomplish. We integrated folks with initiative and integrity and we used new innovations and we created a very successful program here," says Dr. John "Chip" Oswalt. Dr. Oswalt is a cardiothoratic surgeon who performed that first heart transplant.

Hundreds more have been performed since and each recipient knows what a gift they've received.

Charles Kindred says, "All I know, I'm truly grateful to still be here. Because if it weren't for his precious gift...I mean i would be on the other side."

"Without that donor, this would have never been possible," says Herman Washington.

Currently at Seton there are 20 patients awaiting a heart transplant. They are among an estimated 122,000 nationwide.

Patients are listed by how sick they are and when a registered organ donor dies the process begins. A list of the best potential recipients for that organ is sent out to determine who matches blood type, size and weight with the organ going to the person most in need in the region.

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