Steve Ford

Steve Ford

Heart Recipient 

A letter from Heather Ford, daughter of Steve Ford, who was a heart recipient.  

“Let me tell you a little about my dad, Steve Ford.  My dad was a great man, husband, father, and poppy.  He was indeed one of a kind.  My dad was an engineer, served in the USAF, and loved this country.  My dad loved his family, and we always came first.  Steve Ford was kind, compassionate, selfless, loving, intelligent, and so much more if I had the time to share. I will share my dad’s story of how he got that “Second Chance.”  

My dad had been struggling with heart issues for several years before his "gift of life" transplant day.

He had countless heart catheterizations, hospital stays, and numerous stents placed.  All these things would help in the short term, but his doctors knew his only chance at living a better life was for him to have a heart transplant.  We began the journey of trying to make the transplant list around 2009.  This process takes time and many evaluations and appointments.  He was placed on a pump that sent meds through a PIC line to his heart to keep it pumping until he could make a list and get a new heart.  In March of 2010, my dad became sick, and we had to take him to the hospital.  Not knowing what was wrong, they kept him doing more tests.  Within a day, my dad’s body became septic; I am still unsure how and why this happened; things turned very scary and moves had to be made.  He was immediately moved to the ICU at a hospital in Columbia, SC, to assess his situation better and try to gain control.  When my dad got to the ICU, they discovered his liver, pancreas, and kidneys were all shutting down.  A call was made to MUSC in Charleston, SC, where my dad was being seen to make the transplant list, and they immediately wanted him transferred.  Within hours, we were well on our way to Charleston.  Upon arrival, my dad was seen by his team of doctors, and we got the news we didn’t expect.  The doctor came out and said if his body did not make a turnaround within 12 hours, we may not be able to reverse all the damage that was already done.  This was not the news we wanted to hear, but we had faith that God was in control.  

The following day, as we arrived back at the hospital, we met with the doctor taking care of Dad, and he said it was remarkable that one, he was turning a corner, and two, the sepsis did not reach his heart.  We were not out of the woods yet, but things were better than expected.  So, a new plan would develop from here concerning my dad’s care and his making the heart transplant list.  Fast forward to April 30th, 2010, my dad finally made the list.  The waiting began, and we were nervous and excited all at once.  Summer began, and we still were waiting with high hopes because my dad was starting to struggle.  On July 3rd, 2010, I had a conversation with my dad, whose exact words were, “I feel like something is going to happen this weekend.” I wasn’t sure if it was good or bad!  I prayed hard that it would be good.  At around 2:30 AM on Sunday, July 4th, 2010, my phone rang, and my parents said,” They had gotten the call.”  There was a possible donor, and they needed to head to MUSC immediately.  Within hours, we all were gathered in a room, patiently waiting for the word that my dad would head to the operating room and get his “Second Chance.”  

My dad spoke to us and told us that today, “I win either way; in life or death, I win.”  This was my dad’s faith in life. He would remain with us in death and be with his heavenly father. My dad’s attitude was so encouraging, and his faith never wavered. I won’t lie; I prayed he would hang around for several years.    

July 4th marked the day my dad and our family would remember and celebrate for years.  He came out of surgery, and his recovery journey began.  This process required staying in the Charleston area for a few months and regular checks.  When my dad and mom finally returned home, he felt a calling and decided to give back to the organizations that make this process possible and more accessible, such as Donate Life SC and We Are Sharing Hope SC.  My parents volunteered for these organizations and loved helping others through a process they knew well.  My dad would eventually start his support group, “Second Chance,” here in the midlands—a group dedicated to organ recipients, those waiting on organs, and the caregivers of these patients.  The support group was such a success.  My dad loved his group and all those that were a part of it.  My dad felt a duty to tell people about organ donation, what it means, and just how vital one gift can be.  He spoke at events, went to the State House, and participated in the Donor Sabbath. He and I participated in the 5K in Charleston to promote organ donation.  He never stopped trying to give because he was so grateful for the gift someone gave him.     

My dad participated in the Transplant Games of America in Texas, Cleveland, and Utah.  He was successful and brought home some medals.  My dad loved that he met so many people from around the country at these games and shared stories.      

On May 28th, 2021, my dad passed away, but it was not his heart that gave out.  My dad suffered several multiple strokes while in the hospital on a ventilator due to another medical complication.  In that week, my dad did try to donate, but his body was septic yet again, and he was unable to do so.  Even in death, my dad was trying to keep giving in hopes of someone else getting a “Second Chance.”   

My dad’s legacy is great, but until his funeral, I did not know just how many lives he had touched and helped. I knew he was excellent, but it was so moving to see so many people who knew and loved my dad show up to honor him.  At my dad’s funeral, Tracy Moore from Donate Life SC presented my mother and our family with the Donate Life flag and the We Are Sharing Hope SC flag. This was such an honor and precious gift for our family. What a journey, what a legacy my dad has.  I would not trade one minute for all our memories of a man who loved God, his family, his friends, and all those he encountered.  If you knew him, you would love him. That’s just the way he was.  The journey was not always easy, but it was so worth it.  My dad never met his donor family, but he lived every single day grateful for the gift he was given.  He lived almost eleven years with his new heart.  That was eleven years he wouldn’t have had if not for someone choosing to say “YES” to be an organ donor. I hope and pray that you get inspiration from this story and want to leave a legacy of love and hope like my dad, Steve Ford.”