'All of us ... owe our lives to a donor'

The Daily Record | Amanda Rolik

WALNUT CREEK-- A group of over a dozen people spent their weekend at the Miller Haus Bed and Breakfast for a unique weekend retreat. They are people of varying ages and backgrounds who all know one another for one reason only: they have each undergone a heart transplant or had a Left Ventricular Assistance Device placed.

They are part of the LVAD/Heart Transplant Support Group of the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital at The Ohio State University. Member Mike Wigal of West Salem took the initiative to organize the retreat for the group to which he has grown close since his heart transplant two years ago.

Since the group only meets for one hour at a time, Wigal decided to organize the weekend, which happens to fall during heart awareness month, so that the group could spend more quality time together. They enjoyed touring the area and going out for a group dinner Saturday night.

For Wigal, the journey to receiving a heart transplant began when he went in for knee surgery in 2000. At that time, his anesthesiologist noticed an abnormality on his EKG. He was referred to a cardiologist and eventually diagnosed with cardio myopathy.