Northern Michigan University student Ryan Sule and his family were recently given a long awaited gift, just in time for the upcoming holiday season.
Sule, 23, received a heart transplant after recently being moved to the most critical category on the transplant list.
Karan Hendricks, Sule’s mother, said the family is very pleased with the way things are progressing.
“We’re very happy,” Hendricks said. “Ryan is kind of tired but doing very well.”
The call informing the family of an available heart came at about 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, she said. The surgery took place the next morning, and Sule was out of Intensive Care and off of his ventilator by 7 p.m.
He is recovering at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
“They said he may be able to leave [the hospital] in a couple of days,” Karan Hendricks said on Monday.
Jeff Hendricks, Sule’s father, had just returned to Marquette for a few days when he received the call. He said he went through two stages of emotion.
“At first I was very nervous, trying to get everything together to get there in time for the surgery, which is hard to do when your mind’s not functioning right,” he said. “But once I got in the car the calming took place because I knew he was going to get (the heart).”
The time between the call and the surgery ended up being enough for Sule’s father and other family members to get to Rochester.
After Sule is released from Mayo, he will go to The Gift of Life House in Rochester for 90 days.
The Gift of Life House is a place for transplant patients and their families to stay before and after surgery.
Although Sule won’t be in Marquette for the holidays, Jeff Hendricks says they are trying to figure out a way for the family to come to him.
“We are going to try to all be (at the Gift of Life House) with him, but it really is like an extended family there; a lot of them are in the same boat as Ryan,” He said.
Sule suffered from a genetic heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which caused Sule to have a heart attack in 2001 at the age of 19.
Sule was still in the early recovery stages at press time and could not be reached for comment.
The NMU Student Volunteer Center and Students for Organ Donation raised about $700 at the Sept. 18 NMU vs Michigan Tech football game to help Sule’s family with expenses.
Sule was the subject of a Sept. 18 North Wind article.