“It was just heartbreaking, literally, because you’re losing your breath. You can’t go as far as you were able to go before,” said Brian Turner, who was diagnosed with heart failure.
It might have been a physical diagnosis, but it pushed Turner to an emotional brink.
“Instant denial and anger. It’s like, ‘No, you have to be wrong. I want a second opinion,’” he said.
Turner’s frustration with his failing heart drove him to food and depression.
His condition put him on the donor list, but his severe weight gain pushed him right off of it.
Despite his struggles during these years came blessings. He married and adopted four kids in a show of gratitude for the heart he was hoping to receive.
"To me it was paying it forward. There is a family out there who gave the gift of life,” he said.
Dedicated weight loss was his only option, but midway through, Turner was hit with a wave of grief that would have stonewalled most.
“Halfway through my weight loss, I lost both my mother and father, four months apart, and that prompted me to go the rest of the way,” he said.
His unwavering determination and the help from an incredible device called the left ventricle assist kept his heart pumping. He also got incredible support from his coordinator at Mayo Clinic.
Last May, seven years after hearing his heart was failing, Turner qualified for and got his new heart.