MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — Larry Williams and Mike Ashworth met in the hardest of circumstances.
Williams was in need of a heart transplant and was too sick to leave Tufts Medical Center. Ashworth, a volunteer with the HeartBrothers Foundation, paid him a visit.
“We have firsthand experience of what happens to your body, what happens to your mind,” Ashworth said.
All HeartBrothers volunteers, which include women, are survivors of heart failure which is a chronic, progressive condition.
Ashworth had already had a heart transplant when he met Williams.
“That’s the greatest gift God can give you,” Williams said. “Knowing somebody who’s already been through the steps that you’re getting ready to follow.”
Those steps often take years and involve difficult surgeries with uncertain outcomes.
“You’re fighting for your life the entire time,” Ashworth said.
Pat Sullivan started the HeartBrothers Foundation, which awards grants to heart failure patients and organizes visits from trained survivor volunteers. A survivor himself, it was during his yearlong wait for a heart that Sullivan bonded with two other patients, including HeartBrothers co-founder Bob Romer.
“Bob and I said, ‘If we get out of this alive, we got to do something to give back,’” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said patients need both emotional and financial support.
“The average transplant costs $1,000,000,” Sullivan said. “The average income of a transplant patient is $50,000.”
“There’s a certain something about being able to help someone,” Ashworth said. “Even though you may be strong, and you may be optimistic, there are still times that you despair.”
You can find out more about the HeartBrothers Foundation here.
Article by reporter/anchor Erika Tarantal. January 30, 2020.