ANSONIA—People have been heard to say, “the third time’s a charm” and it’s probably true in many cases.
Fortunately, it appears to be coming true for Randy Heck of Ansonia, who underwent a kidney transplant on Feb. 19 at the University of Cincinnati Hospital, after two other attempts failed.
The Ansonia resident, who will turn 61 on July 18, became ill three years ago after he went for a checkup on his diabetes. His family doctor found the problem he was having was stemming from some of the medications he was taking at the time.
Tests were done in Richmond, Ind., and dialysis was started at Reid Hospital.
He underwent dialysis a couple of times in Richmond and then transferred to the Cancer Center in Greenville for the remainder of that time.
He was going three days a week for 3 1/2 hours prior to the transplant.
Lisa, his wife, said during dialysis, he sat in a chair, watched television and talked with the nurses and patients.
“It made him tired,” she said of the dialysis. “He got tired of going every day but never gave up.”
It came to a point when a transplant was inevitable.
When Randy thought he was getting his transplant the first time, it was to be with a live donor but it was called off because of COVID that affected many things at that time, and Lisa said Randy himself had a mild case of it.
On the second attempt, March 27, 2022, they were contacted but when they arrived at the hospital, medical officials claimed he had an infected toe; thus, he was declined again.
Then, the third time was of course, Feb. 19 this year. They received the phone call at 4 a.m., and immediately made their way there.
“The transplant went well,” Lisa let everyone know on Facebook after he came out of surgery.
Randy, who is not limited to activities, can only lift up to 50 pounds. Otherwise, life remains the same for him.
He can even drive, but Lisa is usually the one driving all of the time, and she doesn’t mind it.
The Hecks don’t know who the donor is, but can, if they want, learn about the donor later if they wish. However, Randy is apprehensive about doing that.
“He’s afraid that it will be a bad thing for the donor’s family,” she said. “He wants to know but doesn’t want to know.”
Of course, there were quite a few let-downs in this journey, because of the anticipation they experienced just to have disappointment set in when they were canceled.
“The waiting game was the hardest,” Lisa said.
However, they kept living their lives the best way they could until then.
Randy loves being outdoors, so, they have continued going camping whenever they get the opportunity.
“We just sit around the fire and tell lies,” he said. “Sometimes, I fish. I haven’t been in the water for years. Next year we want to go to Mohican Beach and go river rafting, play putt-putt golf and ride go-karts.”
“He’s the life of the party most of the time,” Lisa said.”
They have a group of friends in the camping arena. They include Drew and Roxann Meadows, Rod and Kendra Anthony, Shawna and Christian Kimmel, Mike and Amy Gessler, Lori and Scott Geesaman, Ron and Shirley Baker and Christine and Jeremy Hoffman.
Randy used to cook at these campouts but it was noted that some of the younger ones are taking over most of the time nowadays.
Randy, who takes insulin for his diabetes, now takes 20 pills in the morning and 10 at night.
“Eight of the pills are rejection medications,” Lisa said.
The Hecks celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary April 6. They met through his cousin and friend, Scott Young and Becky Alexander.
Both are graduates of Ansonia High school; Randy in 1981 and Lisa, whose maiden name is Everman, in 1991.
They are the parents of Brandan, 21; Abby, 17, a senior; and Noah, 15, a sophomore, who are all grateful for their father’s transplant.
Brandan drove his siblings down the next day after the transplant so they could visit with their father; however he could only have two visitors at a time.
The older sibling wrote on Facebook, “Well today us kids and Mom got to see Dad, two at a time…a day after his kidney transplant and we’ve been waiting a long time for this day to come. And the ones that know him know he doesn’t like to sit still and is ready to come home but he can’t yet for a couple of days.”
The release date was March 3.
“We’ve had a lot of support during this time,” said Lisa, who was always by his side.
Brandan and family friend, Mark Mayo, helped build Randy a handrail so he can maneuver the steps easier at their home in Ansonia.
Even Lisa was the recipient of some support.
After she had to leave her husband’s room after the transplant at 8:30 that night, she wasn’t quite sure what to do. In her vehicle, she got lost and called back home and her children got her hooked up with family friend, Tom Diesel, who lives in the area, who welcomed her and even gave her a key to his home for the remainder of their hospital stay.
Lisa’s strength, no doubt, was beneficial to Randy before the transplant, and even more so afterwards.
“I am strong, but I have my days, especially when my sister Sharon (Gilland) passed away on May 20,” she said, her eyes welling up with tears.
Randy’s doctor’s post-transplant visits had been twice a week, Monday and Friday, but are now once-a-month visits.
Randy himself used to bowl and was in a bowling league and traveled to various competitions, but that has not happened for awhile. He has also been known to prepare hog roasts in the area for different functions.
But, most of all the couple has been involved in their children’s activities over the years.
Randy, who most recently worked at Cooper Farms until his kidney problems got worse, had also worked early on at Stemley Farms near New Weston and Boeckman Gas in St. Henry.
With someone else’s kidney in him, does Randy have any changes in his personality?
“He has a shorter fuse, and he needs to be around people.” she replied.
Lisa commended Randy’s team of doctors.
“They were awesome,” she concluded. “And, we thank everybody, family and friends, for their support.”