Stories of Hope: Kevin Riepl

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In the blink of an eye, Kevin Riepl mysteriously suffered end-stage heart failure in October 2010. In the days following, Kevin was supported by a left ventricular assist device or LVAD heart pump. In Kevin’s case, the LVAD was his bridge to a transplant, and while it came with some limitations, it didn’t stop Kevin from living his life to the fullest.

With the help of his wife, Tracy, twin boys, family and friends, Kevin made living with an LVAD his new normal. He pushed forward, not knowing when that call for a new heart would happen. Despite all his pain, Kevin always smiled, embraced the simple things in life, and continued to work as a composer. His love for family and music pushed him to move on. Kevin lived with the LVAD for nine months until the call came that a heart had been donated and allocated to him.

It was only six weeks after the heart transplant that doctors discovered the reason for Kevin’s heart failure: a rare tumor above his adrenal gland. With Kevin’s return to health, the symptoms for this tumor were more recognizable than before, allowing doctors to diagnose and take action. The tumor was removed and found to be benign. Since the tumor removal, testing determined that the tumor is genetic, with Kevin being the first in his family to have the condition.

Kevin is extremely grateful for his new heart, his donor and the donor’s family, “I am here today because of my donor family. Not only have they given me a second chance at life, but they very well saved the lives of my children and family members at risk of this genetic tumor.”

Kevin, his wife, and their boys, with their new perspective on life, work together within the community to spread the word about organ donation. Their story of home and love has inspired many people to register as organ donors, and will hopefully encourage more in the future.

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