A heart attack victim gladly returns to Sentara Heart hospital, on his motorcycle and looking to say “thank you”

Heart transplant patient back in the driver's seat

Jack Jones_Universal_Hr_Heart Transplant_Shh

What a difference a year makes. The last time Jack Jones arrived at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital he was in an ambulance. A year later, Jack and his wife, Mary, pulled up outside of the Sentara Heart Hospital on a pair of motorcycles.  

Outside appearances were not the only stark differences from a year ago.

Last July the Joneses, who are from Tennessee, were only one day into their 25th wedding anniversary vacation in Virginia when Jack was rushed first to Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center with severe chest pain and then transferred to Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk when doctors realized the severity of his heart damage.

So began a 145-day hospital stay where Jones was implanted with a Syncaria Total Artificial Heart while awaiting a donor heart transplant. He received a new heart in November and returned to Tennessee in December. 

Living life 

Jones and his wife have spent the better part of the next year adapting to their “new normal.” Mary has returned to work as a corporate accountant and Jack has gone back to managing their farm. Enjoying such activities as hunting, fishing and even kayaking, Jack and Mary acknowledge that the new normal looks a lot like the old normal – with a few key differences. Jack is careful to listen to his body and take precautions, but he still believes in “getting ‘er done.” That includes finishing the vacation that was started a year ago.

The couple came back to Virginia this July to celebrate 26 years of marriage. Their trip included a visit with old friends and “family” at Sentara Heart Hospital. This time, however, the Joneses arrived on their own terms, complete with tearful reunions, hugs of appreciation to staff and physicians, and catching up on life since the transplant. Jack was even reunited with his faithful therapy dog of one year ago, also named Jack.

When asked why it was important to come back, Jack was clearly emotional as he reflected on his lengthy hospital stay and all the people involved in his care.

“We wanted to say thank you to everybody,” he said. “Sentara was wonderful to us.”

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