Man prospers after transplant

Posted at: 06/14/2013 5:14 PM
Updated at: 06/14/2013 5:25 PM
By: Ashley McElroy, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The odds said he wouldn't be alive today.

A New Mexico man who had a life changing surgery 20 years ago is marking a milestone.

Larry Guffey was only 31 when he had his first heart attack and it wouldn't be the last.

"And on the fourth one the doctor said you have 25 percent of your heart working," said Guffey.

Larry got a heart transplant in 1993 when he was 46, and 20 years later, he said he's feels better than ever.

"A lot of people, you tell them oh you got a heart transplant and they think you should be bedridden and they don't really understand that when you get a transplant it doesn't solve or cure the disease it gives you a new lease on life," he said.

Larry's twentieth anniversary is a personal milestone, but it's also a medical one

According to New Mexico Donor Services, only 36 percent of heart transplant patients live up to twenty years after having a transplant.

Dr. Charles Wilkens said transplant patients can develop infections or reject their donor hearts completely. They can also develop vasculopathy, a disease of the blood vessels.

"You can't bypass it and if it becomes so severe you have to have another transplant, that's why it's so remarkable he's done that well for so long," said Wilkens.

Larry is living an active life. He enjoys taking care of his horses and hopes he can be an example to others.

"A lot of people think after a heart attack or some catastrophic disease they give up and I think I've shown people that it’s very important to continue with life because you never know."

According to New Mexico Donor Services there are 10 New Mexicans currently waiting for a heart transplant.

Transplants can't take place unless people are willing to donate. To find out how you can become an organ donor visit