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Published September 11, 2010, 12:00 AM

Hawley man thankful for donated heart

HAWLEY, Minn. – Glenn Anderson doesn’t know the name of the person who saved his life – he may never know.

By: Wendy Reuer, INFORUM

HAWLEY, Minn. – Glenn Anderson doesn’t know the name of the person who saved his life – he may never know.

But after a 12-year battle with heart disease that included two heart attacks, a quadruple bypass and going into cardiac arrest more than 10 times, the 55-year-old Anderson has been granted a new lease on life after receiving a new heart from an anonymous organ donor.

“At one point, it didn’t look like I was going to make it,” Anderson said.

That’s why doctors placed Anderson on a donor recipient list. Four days later, he was once again entering surgery, this time to receive a new heart.

It’s now been less than two months since the surgery, but Anderson said he already feels like the new heart has made him a new man.

“Oh yeah, it’s been close to six weeks, and I feel a lot better. I still have a ways to go. I could tell the difference a day or two after the surgery. It was nice to take a deep breath.”

Anderson’s wife, Debbie, and their four sons – Chris, Bill, Scott and Glenn Jr. – have also noticed a difference.

Debbie, who once brought her husband back from cardiac arrest by performing CPR in their kitchen, feels like she once again has the man she married.

“There were things that I forgot about him back when he was healthy that I notice about him again now,” she said. “Little things, like the sound of his voice and the way that he looks. He looks younger again.”

Once again, her partner in life is able to do things with her instead of just working on being able to get through a day pain-free.

“Now we’re talking about things he’ll be doing,” Debbie said. “We’re taking drives again, going to the Dairy Queen. He’s coming back to me.”

The gift of donation

Anderson does not know the name of the person who donated a heart to save his life. Whether he finds out depends on if the donor’s family wishes to tell him.

LifeSource is the nonprofit organization that manages organ and tissue donations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and part of western Wisconsin.

Rebecca Ousley, public relations coordinator for LifeSource, explained that each year, more than 700 people donate the eight major organs that can be used along with tissue such as corneas, connective tissue and heart valves.

However, the need continues for organ and tissue donation.

“There’s more than 2,800 people (in the LifeSource region) that are in need of a solid organ transplant and are part of the national transplant list, which currently holds the names of more than 108,000 men women and children,” Ousley said.

Anderson knows he would not be seeing the future he is now without an organ donor.

In six months, Anderson has the opportunity to write an anonymous letter to his donor’s family. The family can choose to reply or to remain anonymous.

“I can’t thank the donor enough, but I really appreciate the generosity of the person who would do that,” Anderson said. “They don’t know what they did, but they gave me my life back. How long it is, only God knows, but it’s nice to get a little more time.”

The donor family are not the only ones for whom Anderson is thankful.

Members of the Rollag and Hawley, Minn., communities have come together to host a fundraiser for Anderson on Sunday in Hawley.

A fund has also been set up for Anderson and his family: the Glenn Anderson Benefit Fund at the State Bank of Hawley.

Dakota Medical Foundation will provide up to $5,000 in matching funds based on contributions made to the benefit fund and/or online at www.dakmed.org.

A nearly speechless Anderson finds it hard to express his gratitude for the community response.

“That’s really awesome. I can’t believe the work that people are putting into that,” he said. “It’s incredible. I can’t say enough about my community.”

It is things like his family and getting out again in the community that the farm boy at heart said he is most looking forward to.

“I hope to be back to work. I’m really looking forward to that,” he said. “And I’m looking forward to having fun with my family. I’ve missed a lot.”

If you go

  • What: Glenn Anderson benefit pancake breakfast, bake sale and silent auction
  • When: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday
  • Where: Hawley (Minn.) Community Building
  • Info: Hosted by Gran-Park-Rollag parish

More information

  • Call (218) 937-5404. Dakota Medical Foundation will provide up to $5,000 in matching funds based on contributions made to the benefit fund and/or online. To donate online, visit www.dakmed.org and click on the Donate-Lend A Hand link.
  • To be an organ donor, register at donatelifend.org, donatelifemn.org or donatelifesd.org.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530