Someone must die so another can live

THE ATLANTIC JOURNAL CONSTITUTION | Grace Bonds Staples
Lance Cunha with his daughters Heather Cunha Amato (left) and Jennifer Cunha Rodman two days after his heart transplant. Contributed
At 58, Lance Cunha had traveled the world counseling organizations on strategic matters, helping solve complex development and economic problems, and advising countries on debt and capital market issues.

He was, as they say, at the top of his game. Having grown up of modest means in New York City, he was proud of how far he’d come in life. He was a first generation American, a hard worker who’d climbed the ladder to success. In just three years, he’d earned his undergraduate degree in international relations at Ithaca College, then a master’s degree in international affairs and economics from the University of Notre Dame. He’d married his college sweetheart, Mary Mackenbach, and raised two successful daughters. He looked forward to seeing his grandchildren grow up.

Then in 2003, Cunha started to feel a general malaise. He felt tired and out of breath. When he went to see a doctor, the news was bad. Cunha had an enlarged heart or, as doctors put it, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The risk of him suddenly dying of a heart attack was so high that doctors suggested he slow down, perhaps even retire. 
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