HOUSTON -- A few days before Christmas last year, Timothy Lewis walked his daughter down the aisle of the chapel at Houston Methodist Hospital with the whirring equipment of a heart balloon pump towed behind him.
He was in end-stage heart failure. His daughter Lolaycia Lewis moved up the date of the wedding and agreed to hold it in the hospital because her dad was too frail to leave.
"I have all the optimism in the world, all the faith,” she said of her hope for her dad’s recovery. “But I wanted to make sure my dad was able to walk me down the aisle."
After the wedding a gaunt and weak Timothy Lewis returned to his hospital bed to wait for what fate had in store for him next. The intra-aortic balloon pump would either be a bridge to an eventual heart transplant or just be the device that would give him and his family a few more weeks of life.
His miracle arrived two weeks later.
"I'm great. Kevin, I'm fine,” he told us now one month after a successful heart transplant. “I feel wonderful.”
Lewis, 49, received a heart transplant on January 4th. He only knows the donor was a 19-year-old man. He hopes that someday he will get to meet that family to thank them for their sacrifice in person.
"I hope one day that we will get an opportunity to see the family and we want that family to know that we want them to be a part of us and we want to be a part of them."
"I'm blessed to have this new heart,” said Lewis who met us in the very same chapel to talk about his recovery. He has gained weight and appears remarkably healthy and vastly different than he did the day of the wedding.
“And I'm just stronger by the day, getting stronger by the day."
"And he's been free thankfully of rejection, free of infection. And we project that over the next several years to 10 years that he'll do well,” said Houston Methodist cardiologist Dr. Jerry Estep.
Lewis is from Jackson, Mississippi. Despite the successful heart transplant he is not yet cleared to return home. He and his wife Teila are living near the Texas Medical Center. Lewis still undergoes weekly checkups to make sure his body does not reject the transplant. Doctors have told him that perhaps in six months he will be able to return home for what promises to be one very big wedding reception.
"We just want to go back and celebrate with them this miracle that has happened to me,” he said.
A miracle that after he gave away his daughter someone else gave their heart.