MIDLAND, Texas (ABC Big 2/Fox 24) – It can be a stark reminder for some, that life can take us in any direction. After a heart transplant, one man here in the Permian Basin is using his life to teach and to give.
“Do you deserve it? Do you deserve someone else dying so you can live?” Michael Crain asks.
He is talking about accepting the heart of a stranger, one that is now beating inside his own chest.
“I had the heart attack for almost six hours long,” he said.
Crain knows timing can mean everything. From the moment a heart attack starts, to the years-long wait for a new heart.
“Doc came in and says, ‘I got a heart transplant for you,'” Crain said.
That meant a new chance at life for the 60-year-old business consultant who has dealt with major heart issues his whole life. But that also meant someone else had just lost theirs.
“He was on the side of a road changing a tire. He was 23 years old, his wife was 20, his kid 2 years old. They were up on the embankment…”
…when that father was hit and killed.
As time passed, Crain learned to live with a new heart. He also wanted to learn more about his donor, an Arizona State student studying information technology. So Crain went back to school.
He wanted to honor his donor by getting the degree his donor was working on. Crain winded up, not just completing his studies, but would later become a lecturer at the University of Texas at the Permian Basin, even teacher of the year across all UT campuses.
But Crain would go one step further to honor his heart’s donor.
“I changed everything I had to the donor’s name,” Crain said.
His awards, his degrees, and gave them to the man’s son.
“So, it was my way of saying ‘Your father’s dream came true. It just took two of us to do it,'” Crain said.
Crain is coming up on 19 years with his new heart. He plans to continue to honor his donor in any way he can.