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Richie's Heroes of the Month


Until only a few decades ago, many hospitals across the nation were reluctant to perform the surgery due to the high risk and unknown outcomes.  The first successful heart transplant took place in 1967 and hundreds of similar surgeries soon followed with strikingly low survival rates.  Doctors were able to figure out the science behind transferring the heart from one patient to the next, but had difficulty with rejection and sustaining the organ in a foreign body.

Nearly 20 years later, Andy Buczek, Richie's Spirit Foundation's June 2015 Hero of the Month, was faced with a difficult decision:  undergo a potentially life-saving but risky heart transplant or slowly fade away to his eventual death from heart failure.  Buczek chose the latter and in November of 1967 received a successful heart transplant at Hartford Hospital.

"Several weeks prior to my surgery, the news reported of a failed heart transplant at a neighboring hospital," Buczek recalled.  "It was terrifying."

Now retired from more than 40 years with the United States Postal Service, Buczek, the married father of two girls, will forever be greatly for the young donor who saved his life (a 27 year year old man, the donor, was killed during a botched robbery in a neighboring city).  Buczek is currently the longest surviving heart recipient in the state of Connecticut and thinks of his donor and medical team often.

Richie’s Spirit Foundation recognizes the financial burden an organ transplant has on a family. To help alleviate some of these pressures, Richie’s Spirit Foundation has set-up Transplant Assistance Grants, which help off-set some of the expenses for a family with a child waiting for or who recently received an organ transplant.  To make a contribution, please click here