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A Father and a Fighter: Lifesaver gets a new chance at life

06/15/2018

As a Phoenix firefighter, Dave Wipprecht firmly believes in miracles. In 2014, that faith was tested when Wipprecht began having difficulty breathing. Although doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia, his breathing problems persisted so he checked into Banner Thunderbird Medical Center.

An echocardiogram revealed that his heart was four times its normal size. Wipprecht was given heart medication, but shortly afterward his leg began to hurt. Doctors found blood clots throughout his body, due to his heart only functioning at 10 percent.

Rushed into emergency surgery and then transferred to Mayo Clinic Hospital, Wipprecht was placed at the top of the waiting list for a new heart.

Journey of Faith

Throughout his three-and-a-half month stay at Mayo Clinic Hospital, hooked up to IVs and taking medication daily, Wipprecht maintained an optimistic attitude for his wife and three young sons.

In June 2015, his doctor told Wipprecht that they had exhausted all their options and predicted he only had nine days to live. Still, Wipprecht’s positivity never wavered. He continued to show strength and bravery, even amidst adversity, as any proud father would.

“I knew I’d get through this, knowing that I had to stay alive for my family,” Wipprecht says.

His faith was rewarded when, six days later, he received news that a new heart was available. Wipprecht says that he woke up smiling after the successful surgery.

“I could breathe normally,” Wipprecht says. “I felt new again.”

The Gift of New Life

Back at home just nine days later, Wipprecht took care of his new heart. After celebrating his two-year transplant anniversary, Wipprecht wrote a letter to his donor’s family and hopes to meet them someday.

Even before his transplant experience, Wipprecht had always been a registered donor. Now donation has even more meaning. At the fire department, he and his fellow firefighters always did everything they could to save someone’s life. On the sad occasion when that person might not make it, their efforts could still help save someone else’s life through donation. Wipprecht proudly displays a Donate Life license plate and shares his story with others.

“I would encourage others to stay positive and tell them there’s a reason for everything,” says Wipprecht. “And if it’s my time to go, then it’s my time to help others.”

Thanks to the generosity of others, Wipprecht can continue to be a father and a fighter, and for that he is forever grateful.

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