GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Holly and Tracy Gary know all about what transplant patients and their families go through.
They have the scars to prove it.
Tracy Gary’s is from his heart transplant four years ago.
“I got the call on May 5th, 2018, that they had a heart for me,” he said.
Holly Gary’s is from her liver transplant 15 years ago.
“I don’t have any recollection, or maybe minimal recollection of anything that happened until after I woke up a week later with a transplant,” she said.
Transplants are lifesaving and life changing operations. But they can also put a lot of stress on the patients and their families.
But now, Transplant House West Michigan is designed to take some of the pressure off both patients and families.
The window from organ harvest to transplant is short, meaning recipients must be close to the hospital when a donation is available.
Transplant House of West Michigan puts patients about 2 miles from Corewell Butterworth for Heart and lung transplants, 3 miles from Trinity Health St. Mary’s for kidney transplants and steps away from other things they might need.
“We are right on the bus line. Right across the street is a shopping center with a grocery store, drug store, McDonalds, Jimmy Johns,” Tracy Gary said.
It’s also meant to relieve travel and financial burden for families of transplant recipients.
Transplant House plans to charge families $60 a night for stays, a rate they hope to bring down with more donations, while also giving patients and families the emotional support they can’t get in a hotel room.
“We want to create a community environment for people that are going through transplants,” Holly Gary said.
The Garys hope to have Transplant House West Michigan up and running by next spring.
There’s still much work to do.
They’ve raised $144,000. They need another $206,000 in cash donations and in-kind work to complete the house.
“We’re really hoping that someone else will step up to the plate and help us (and) get the community really involved,” Holly Gary said.
The Garys aren’t getting paid for their efforts, they’re doing it out of love.
The couple met while Holly Gary was part of a transplant team at Corewell Butterworth and Tracy Gary was waiting for his new heart.
She left her job.
He reached out on Facebook for a date.
They’ve been together ever since.
“We’re trying to pay it forward, because we’re both here,” he said.
“We were left here for a reason,” she said. “We have a love story, a heart and a liver. So we feel like we’re left here to help other people.”