Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Celebrating 25 Years with a New Heart

by Susan Carlisle

Please bare with this peacock preening with parental pride post.

My family is celebrating an important anniversary on Monday, March 21st. My youngest son, Nick, 26,  will celebrate 25 years with a heart transplant. Without the living giving gift of a organ my husband and I would have lost a child. Instead, we have a fun loving, witty young man .

I wanted to share a few pictures and a small part of Nick’s story with you today.

One year old. 


Nick is the youngest of four children and he was born with a bad heart in 1989. Out of the six major heart birth defects, he was born with four. Andy and his wife, Susan had no idea Nick had any type of problem until his birth. Heart issues at birth or congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect and occurs in nearly 1 in 100 births.

Just after 1st surgery. One week old.


Nick’s and Dr. Kirk Kanter, Nick heart surgeon. He did all of Nick’s surgeries. Not 1, not 2, not 3… Picture5

A few months before he turned two Nick’s parents were told he needed a heart transplant. Nick was listed on the United Network for Organ Sharing list. He waited for six weeks for a heart. He received his new heart on March 21, 1991, just a couple of weeks before his second birthday. Nick was one of the first 581 patients under the age of eighteen transplanted at the time and there are seventy-five alive today. Nick was on the cutting edge of medicine and still is today.

College graduate

He does and continues to take antirejection medicine each morning and each night of every day, without fail. When Nick was eighteen part of his heart became infected. He had surgery again and was given little chance to survive. He did, but two months later he needed a pacemaker.

28 scars to date




Despite all that Nick has been through, he water skis, snow skis, wrestled in middle school, played tennis through high school, has seen forty-nine of the fifty states, spent a summer in Europe visiting thirteen countries, and has been to Canada. He finished college with a business degree, owns a home, is married and is employed as a manager at Wal-Mart. None of this would have been possible without the gift of a heart. Organ donation saves lives.



20 thoughts on “Celebrating 25 Years with a New Heart”

  1. Susan that is one miracle I am so happy for you all it must have been so scary at the time but you have all come through. I am on the organ donation list her in Australia I think it is a great idea I know a few people that have had kidney transplants and they are doing so well hugs to you all and a big one to Nick and thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    Have Fun

    1. Thanks Helen. Few people realize how important organ donation is until they are faced with a need. Nick has gotten to enjoy a full life because of a family’s gift.

  2. Well that cleared out the old tear ducts, Susan!
    It’s such a great, personal story. Thanks for sharing and putting a very human face to organ donation!

    PS – Wallmart?? I hope you make him order your books in specially 😉

    1. Amy,
      You made me laugh. I still cry sometimes to think of how fortunate our family has been. There were tough days sometimes but well worth it.
      I don’t think Nick is far enough up the ladder to control ordering my books but when he is I’ll see that they are on the shelf.

  3. Congratulations to Nick for being a survivor, for Susan and his family for their support, to the donor family for having the courage to give the gift of life, and to all the medical wizards who made this possible. I know a few of you are nurses, so you know in 1989 this was indeed a very rare procedure, Nick is a miracle! May his miracle continue for many years to come!

      1. Laurie,
        Thank you for the wonderful thoughts. We have never spoken to the donor family. When Nick was transplanted that was not done or encouraged. I wrote them a letter of thanks but they never respond back. We honor their decision. I do think of their loss with each year that goes by. They are our heroes.

  4. YAY, Nick!

    I know a special 10 year old boy who is a bit of a miracle baby. His Mom was told he wouldn’t even survive birth. Constantly she was told he was going to die and to let him go. Yet he’s still here and is one of the bravest, funniest boys I know.

    So glad Nick is here and Happy Anniversary to him.

      1. Amy,
        That is wonderful. As much as I trust the medical world sometimes they just don’t know how strong their patient is.

    1. Thanks Lynne,
      Sometimes I’m amazed by it as well. But it is just part of our family’s life. We only think about it when something is going wrong. Nick is treated like all the rest.

  5. Incredible! Thanks for sharing, Susan, and yes, I’m an organ donor 🙂 (Just not my eyes, for some reason that makes me squeamish).

  6. What a fantastic story, Susan and Kudos to you and Andy for raising such a great young man under challening circumstances. Mega Kudos to Nick for coping with all he’s been through. All four Lowes are registered as organ donors.

    1. I appreciate it Fiona. Our goal was for Nick to grow up and we wanted him to be a well-adjusted person so he was treated like the rest of our kids. He still gets in trouble for not coming to see his mother enough!

  7. Fabulous Susan, loved the pictures of your son. He is a real credit to you. Donors are so important, thoughts with the brave family who donated their child’s organ. I hope they take comfort from stories like your son’s.

    1. Thanks Scarlet. I like to believe that the donor family does know about Nick but just choose not to be in contact. I, too, hope they are comforted by how well he has done.

  8. Thank you for sharing Nick’s inspiring story, Susan. An incredible gift of hope by the donor family, which has been turned into a reality by the doctor who has looked after Nick for so many years. Congratulations on this very special milestone!

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