Patient Stories

Ryan Naismith

In February of 2010, at just 22 years old, Ryan went into cardiac arrest after returning home from working the night shift. Thankfully, his girlfriend was able to administer CPR with the guidance of the 911 operator, and paramedics arrived quickly. Ryan underwent hypothermia therapy and upon recovery, his medical team implanted a defibrillator to assist his heart, and he returned to work and enjoyed a good quality of life, even graduating with honors from Northeastern University.

Then in September of 2011, after eating dinner with friends, he suffered a second cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital where he underwent a second round of hypothermia therapy. After undergoing this therapy, Ryan was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital, as it was clear he would need advanced care. While hospitalized at MGH he experienced a third cardiac arrest he was placed on ECMO (extracorpreal membrane oxygenation). Two days after being placed on ECMO, he had a left ventricular assist device implanted to assist the function of his failing heart as a bridge to heart transplant which was critical to Ryan's survival.

After 2 false alarms, on December of 2012, Ryan received a second chance at life thanks to a lifesaving heart transplant. Today he lives a full life, working full time and enjoying all that life has to offer thanks to the generosity of the donor and their family.

Additionally, Thanks to a dedicated group of family and friends, he raised more than $47,000 through his fundraising campaign with NFT.

Colleen Leal

In 2008, Colleen began experiencing a nagging cough. At first, doctors thought she was suffering from environmental allergies, but additional testing led to her diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis.

Sadly, she was no stranger to lung disease, as her father and three brothers died from emphysema, and numerous aunts and uncles suffer from COPD. Just a month after one of her brothers lost his health battle with emphysema, another brother passed away after battling lung cancer, which also took the life of one of her sisters. Doctors said a double-lung transplant was critical to Colleen's survival.

Thankfully, she received her lifesaving transplant in September of 2014!

Despite her health challenges, Colleen has remained positive thanks to her strong faith and the amazing support from her husband, Mike, two children, son-in-law, grandson and encouraging groups of volunteers.

Through numerous restaurant fundraisers and online fundraising, Colleen’s campaign was able to raise more than $25,000 to help throughout her transplant journey!

Joe C. Rosales, Sr.

In 2008, Joe broke his ankle, an injury requiring pins to be inserted during surgery. At a pre-operation medical appointment, his doctor reviewed the routine EKG and asked him when he had suffered a heart attack. Joe was shocked to hear this question because he didn't know he had experienced a heart attack.

After seeing a cardiologist and undergoing multiple tests, Joe was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, which afflicted his father, grandparents and multiple aunts. In 2010, Joe suffered another heart attack, and doctors implanted a defibrillator to assist his heart while he awaits his transplant. Doctors said a heart transplant was essential to his survival, and he received his new heart in March of 2012.

Despite these challenges, he is forever grateful for the love and encouragement of Evangeline, his wife of more than 40 years, their two children, family and friends. His four grandchildren mean the world to him, and he is so happy to be healthy enough to spend more quality time with them, especially being outdoors and around his beloved horses.

Through the steadfast support of loved ones, his campaign raised more than $27,000. His family, friends and supporters still hold a 5K walk/run every year in Joe’s honor!

Marika Woltil

When she was 16, Marika was diagnosed with diabetes, and before she knew it, she was learning how to give herself insulin injections and test her blood sugar. Then five years later in 2000, she was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a condition that prevents her stomach from working properly. She was no longer able to eat and had to receive nourishment through a chest catheter and eventually a feeding tube. After about a year, Marika's health began to improve, and she was able to eat again, but things took a turn for the worse in 2008 when she began spending most of her days feeling nauseous and vomiting.

Sadly, she even missed most of her own wedding in 2009 because she was so extremely ill. While undergoing surgery to have a gastric pacemaker implanted in December 2009, her doctor noticed she was retaining fluid and referred her to a kidney specialist. She was shocked when her kidneys went from "not working too well" in January 2010 to being diagnosed with end-stage renal failure in December later that year. Doctors said a kidney/pancreas transplant was critical to her survival.

A living kidney donor was found, and she received her kidney transplant on September 23, 2011; she later received a new pancreas transplant on January 24, 2012!

Marika’s fundraising efforts through NFT raised nearly $50,000 to help with her transplant-related expenses.

Chris Johnson

When he was just 10 years old, Chris received the shocking diagnosis of nephrotic syndrome after his mom took him to the pediatrician because of a swollen leg. As it turned out, the swelling had been caused by a blood clot. Thanks to medication and careful monitoring, he was able to live out a normal childhood, but his parents were told that his kidneys would eventually fail. Thirty years later, that time came, and doctors said a kidney transplant was critical to Chris’s survival.

He has a strong support system of loved ones. Both of his parents and his oldest son tried to donate a kidney to Chris, but were ruled out because of age factors. Chris took on a more active role in finding a living kidney donor through social media outreach.

Thankfully, Chris received a new kidney. How this came about was nothing short of amazing. A woman named Lindsey McKay Bracey, who is an NFT patient awaiting a new kidney, had been following Chris’ story through social media. She had found a living donor for herself, Cheryl Welp, only to then be deactivated from the transplant list. Lindsey made the most amazing sacrifice. She contacted Cheryl and asked her to donate her kidney to Chris. Cheryl wanted to wait for Lindsey to be reactivated, but Lindsey insisted she donate to Chris instead. On March 5, 2015 Cheryl gave her kidney to Chris.

Stories like the selfless generosity and compassion of both Cheryl and Lindsey are sincerely inspirational, and Chris is forever grateful for his new lease on life.