Black History Month02/26/2021
Decades of Appreciation and Respect
Charles Okeke’s first heart transplant gave him 10 years of life before his body began rejecting it. The antibodies that caused his first heart to fail would not allow for another transplant right away, and Okeke eventually became the first person in the U.S. to be discharged from the hospital with an artificial heart. That technology gave him the freedom to return home to his wife and three children until his second heart transplant, which came in January 2011.
This time, he also received a kidney from the same donor, because his kidney was damaged during the wait for a new heart. Thanks to this dual lifesaving transplant, Okeke’s quality of life dramatically improved. He celebrated 10 years with his second transplant in January 2021.
“There are no words to express my appreciation and respect for the family that made the courageous and generous decision to donate their loved one’s organs,” says Okeke. “I honor them and I am keeping my pledge to continue honoring and taking care of this great gift.”