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North Texas family grateful for selfless donation

Last fall, Pete Sanchez successfully underwent a double transplant at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The 70-year-old great grandfather is thankful to be celebrating National Donate Life month this April.


[Narrator] How do you give thanks for the gift of life?

[Pete] You can't put I price on that, I know that.

[Narrator] Though his weeks now consist of traveling more than 200 miles round trip for doctor visits at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

[Doctor] Transplant comes with travel.

[Narrator] This 70 year old Stevenville resident is filled with gratitude, because less than a year ago, it was only a matter of time, before his heart would give out.

[Pete] I knew I wasn't breathing good and everything, but you know, I knew it was gonna happen. I didn't know how soon, but it did happen.

[Narrator] Pete Sanchez had a left ventricular assist device implanted in May of 2016. It helps the heart pump blood, but his cardiologist at Texas Health Resources knew more had to be done. Sanchez's vital signs where alarming. His heart was becoming weak, and his legs and ankles where starting to swell, common symptoms of congestive heart failure.

[Teresa] You have like six to 12 months to live. That is if you don't get pneumonia, and so then he decided well doctor make me an appointment.

[Narrator] And that's how he landed at UT Southwestern, where the nationally recognized, heart transplant team, treats some of the most complex cases of heart failure. They knew they had to act and fast.

[Dr. Gordin] The Sulphed allowed him to bridge the gap, while he was waiting for a heart transplant safely.

[Teresa] Finally one night, about 9:30, the phone rang and they said they had a heart for him, and I just jumped up for joy!

[Narrator] He was on the waiting list for only two weeks. On October 16th of 2018, Pete Sanchez received a new heart.

[Dr. Vagefi] Often patients who have end organ failure, of one type, may have an additional organ that's failed as well, and so they require, their called dual organ transplants.

[Narrator] Doctor Parsia Vagefi was the second transplant surgeon to operate on Sanchez in a matter of 48 hours. On top of his failing heart, his kidneys where also giving out.

[Dr. Vagefi] They're challenging patients because you're managing multiple organs that have failed. That's one of the benefits of UT Southwestern, where we have expertise kind of across the board for all the various organ systems.

It benefits the patient when we're making these complex decisions as a collaborative team, because we can offer a personalized approach.

[Pete] I wanna give thanks to the donor, and then the good Lord for giving me another chance.

[Dr. Gordin] April is national donate life month, and so we're very big supporters of getting the message out there to sign up to be an organ donor.

[Narrator] Sanchez, who is still receiving recovery care from the transplant and cardiac team at UT Southwestern, credits his wife of 48 years, and children for their endless support, but there is one tiny cheerleader, his only great granddaughter, Leah giving him the greatest motivation.

[Pete] She said papa are you exercising? I said yes I am. If you don't exercise, you're going to be living in Dallas forever.

[Narrator] A voice of encouragement, he hopes to hear for a very long time.

I got 70 years out of that first heart, I'll keep going to 100, so I can get another 30 out of this one here.