By Evelyn Symons, Special to Londoner
John Neal went into the operating room on New Year's Eve loving three women, but woke up the next day loving four.
At the age of 49, Neal loved his wife and two daughters, women he wouldn't see again if he didn't receive a heart transplant.
"I love her, I really love her," said Neal as he tearfully described some of the things he knows about Ellen, the 27-yearold who lost her life in a car accident on New Year's Eve of 1990 – the woman whose heart has been beating inside him for the last 20 years.
While many people work on resolutions in an attempt to start the New Year with a clean slate, Neal knows what it's really like to start over. His journey started on Father's Day of 1988 with a heart attack, and it's been a long and challenging road ever since.
"Never give up, and a positive attitude is essential to any healing," Neil said. "That every day is a blessing. I've seen two daughters married and four grandchildren born."
Ellen, the young healthy woman who lost her life, was a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and a professor of kinesiology at the University of Guelph when she passed. Kinesiology is the study of human movement and by being an organ donor, this woman gave the gift of movement and life to someone who once looked in the mirror to see "A withered up old man."
Neal never forgets he has someone else's heart beating inside him. It's one of his dreams to travel to Norway to visit Ellen's grave.