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'It's a miracle': Alaska man who missed out on heart transplant during Seattle ice storm now has a new heart

Patrick Holland's flight to get a new heart was canceled during December's ice storm grounding flights. Three months later, he has a new heart.

SEATTLE — Three months after an Alaska man missed out on a life-saving surgery in December due to a crippling ice storm in Seattle, he now is recovering after receiving a new heart from UW’s Heart Institute.

Patrick Holland now has a new heart and lease on life.

“Before this I could do two laps around our kitchen counter and I was done chasing my kid and when I get home I'm going to chase the crap out of him on the playground," Holland said. "It’s emotional because I didn't have it."

Holland is a father of seven from North Pole, Alaska. KING 5 first spoke with Holland when his flight was canceled from Fairbanks to Seattle during an unprecedented ice storm grounding all flights in and out of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Ultimately, he lost an opportunity for a heart transplant.

"I think I cried more that day than I have in my life and had exerted every emotion that I’d never had," Holland said. "To get out of that funk, I immediately said, 'thank God, there's going to be a family that saving someone's dad, saving someone's brother, saving someone's, someone's uncle.'"

Fast forward a few months later and Holland is recovering in Seattle with a new heart.

“I can't even explain it," Holland said. "It's like literally dying and somebody saying here's a new life.”

The road to get here has been filled with ups and downs. Heart disease runs in Holland's family and he was ultimately diagnosed with congestive heart failure at 39. After three pacemakers, major bypass surgery and multiple other procedures, he was put on the transplant list at 57.

“My life has been slowly taken away every six months," Holland said. "Every heart attack. Every cardiac arrest you lose another part of you."

After missing the first chance at a new heart, Holland wasn't going to let that happen again and came to Seattle in January to wait for the next call.

“Then I got the other call and it's like lay down everything and I told everybody sorry got to go and that heart had a sickness they couldn't tell me what it was,” Holland said. 

That same scenario would happen two more times then the phone rang on March 30 and he got his fifth call for a heart.

“The doctor looked at me and said, 'I'll see you when you wake up,'" Holland said. "And I woke up and I have this new heart and its pounding with authority."

Holland did have a post-operation scare with internal bleeding and though he may not make it.

“There's genuine happiness that's running through here that's a gift from God for sure," Holland said. "Believe what you want to believe but it's a gift. It's a miracle."

Holland walked out of the hospital on April 27 and that’s when Jim Palzer stepped in.

“I was having my morning cup of coffee and watching the news broadcast and saw one on Patrick,” Palzer said.

Palzer, who is also a native Alaskan, knew he had to help. He closed the door to his Newcastle home and moved to Seattle to be Holland's caregiver for the next two and a half months.

“I enjoy helping people," Palzer said. "I pay it forward. I've had a lot of people help me through my life and this is how I pay it forward with people like Patrick."

Palzer is helping Holland recover and get back to enjoying the little things in life.

Holland has a serving heart and on top of getting back to his family, he’s looking forward to helping care for seniors in Alaska.

“I'm going to help a lot of people with this heart so whoever's out there don't worry," Holland said. "It's not going to be wasted."

If you’d like to help Holland, you can donate to this GoFundMe here.


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