Red Deer’s Curtis Bawtinheimer woke up one day in July 2018, and it “felt like an elephant was sitting” on his chest.
“I was going to go to work, and work through all this. I couldn’t breathe. On my way to work, it got worse and worse, so instead of turning left to go to work, I turned right and went to the hospital.
“They said I was within an hour of dying and that all my internal organs had shut down. Then I was administered right away to the ICU,” said Bawtinheimer.
The next day, he was transferred to an Edmonton hospital, where he was in the critical care intensive unit for 10 days. A handful of days passed, and it was determined he would need to have a LVAD, or a mechanical heart, implanted.
“To make a long story short, my heart is dead. There’s a pump that’s been fused in there that pumps the blood throughout my body, which keeps me going,” he said.
Bawtinheimer hasn’t been back to work since the mechanical heart was implanted, but has received disability.
“I wake up and I have breakfast. I take 23 pills for breakfast. Then a half-hour later, I lay down and have a nap because I’m tired already. Then I get up to have lunch, with another six pills and have an afternoon nap. I have supper with 17 pills and five more before bed,” he said.
It’s unclear how long it will take for Bawtinheimer to receive a transplant.
“I could be sitting here and get the call, or it could be a year, could be two years. You don’t know,” he said.
Now, he and his wife Cheryl, who have three children, aged 18, 22 and 24, have launched an online auction to help support his future heart transplant.
They will have to relocate to Edmonton for three to four months after his transplant surgery for physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
Money raised in the auction will go toward travelling, housing and medical expenses that are not covered.
“We cannot thank the community enough for what they’ve done for us. It’s been such a crazy response so far,” Bawtinheimer said.
Bidding for various items began this past Friday and lasts until this Friday at 9 p.m.
For more information, search “Online Auction Heart For Curtis” on Facebook.
There is also a GoFundMe page where donations can be made, at www.gofundme.com/f/heart-for-curtis.