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Organ recipient: Don't give up

(John Rodino visits with Route 24 Radio last week for an interview)

PONTIAC – Enjoy those little things in life and don’t get so upset over the small stuff, because it doesn’t matter.

That’s the advice of lifelong Livingston County resident John Rodino who is raising awareness of organ donation since it saved his life. He received a new heart a couple of years ago.

“What matters is just enjoying your life because it’s short,” said Rodino.

When he was just 39, Rodino came home from a run, walked into the house and the next thing he knew, he woke up in the hospital. All of this happened despite being healthy and always working out.

“I had a heart attack and died,” recalled Rodino. “My son started CPR, called 911 and they brought me back to life.”

Over the years, he had several stints and a double bypass surgery before he was told nothing else could be done. Rodino’s local doctor then reached out to the University of Chicago where he was told his heart was pumping too good to be high on the list to receive a new one. His problem was the blockage, not pumping.

“I was told to do my bucket list. That really got to me.”

Rodino knew he couldn’t give up so he kept fighting. After another heart attack, he headed back to Chicago where his heart was only at nine percent. He even drove there and walked in to the amazement of health professionals.

After receiving a balloon pump, Rodino felt much better and was bumped up on the list for a heart transplant. He got the call there was a heart available a few days later.

Following the 10-hour transplant surgery, anti-rejection tests have been good and Rodino runs five miles every morning.

“It’s a whole new life for me again,” Rodino said with a smile.

There are many people out there like Rodino who are in need of organs – even skin. The waiting list may be long, but there are things you can do to help by becoming a donor. It’s as simple as signing your driver’s license to be an organ donor.

“Right before I got to Chicago, I told the Lord come and get me because I’m done and he had different plans,” recalled Rodino.

While many may take their energy for granted to be able to do things, Rodino does not. He can now enjoy those little things in life like watching his grandkids grow up.

“The privilege I got now from an organ donor who saved me has meant so much.”

Rodino hopes he can get through to at least one person to become an organ donor. He advises those with problems to keep fighting through them and if a doctor tells you there is nothing they can do, find someone else.

“What matters is just enjoying your life because it’s short,” added Rodino. “Don’t give up.”


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