Man with No Pulse Runs 5K. (Seriously!)
Have you ever asked yourself, “How much more of this can I possibly take?” Well, then this is the story for you because the story of Mark Sandy will surely put life into perspective for all of us.
Mark Sandy and his family live in Circleville, Ohio which is just outside of Columbus. They lived a fairly normal life. He had had a few heart attacks before, but in December of 2012, he suffered the worst one. It was a massive heart attack. His heart stopped for five minutes and he aspirated into his lungs. He died.
The Columbus hospital induced a coma and transported him to the Cleveland Clinic about four hours away. He woke up about 10 days later in a different city, his family was there with him (even his mother from England was there.)
Being so far from home his family remained there as well. It was really tough on his wife Tracey. Now I just met Tracey. In fact, I met her in a kindness group on Facebook and she was sharing a story about how her family performs random acts of kindness. I messaged her for permission to use her words in a post. It was then that I learned of her larger story – the story about HOW kindness became woven into her family – how kindness from a stranger actually kept her afloat during dark days.
“We were at the hospital waiting on a bus, we hardly had any money. We were sleeping in the hospital waiting room,” Sandy tells BeingBetterHumans. “A stranger came over and told me that he’d had a heart transplant and that he would be praying for our family. He put something in my hand and hugged me and my son. As he walked away, I opened my hand to find $200, my son and I couldn’t believe it. A stranger. It was a blessing.”
Mark’s heart was in such bad shape that death was imminent. At the end of December, the doctors told Tracey that he wasn’t going to make it. Then a miracle happened. A device was available as a last chance. It is called LVAD. They would surgically implant the LVAD, a battery-operated, mechanical pump, which then helps the left ventricle (main pumping chamber of the heart) pump blood to the rest of the body.
The only problem was, the family had no insurance and it was really, really expensive. They prayed. The Cleveland Clinic ended up paying for the device for Mark with no cost to him. On January 9th, 2013 Mark Sandy got a new chance at life.
After 7 long months, The Sandy Family, including Mark, all finally returned home. It has been a lot of hard work but Mark is doing well.
Tracey told us, “My husband now has a Lvad, it is an electric heart pump. He has no blood pressure or pulse nor a heartbeat. He has been waiting for a heart for almost 5 years now. He is doing okay with his heart pump at the moment. He ran a 5k this summer. Without our community supporting us, we wouldn’t have made it. People were so kind and generous so we feel we have to give back.”
Yes, you read that right. Mark ran a 5k this summer. Pretty incredible for someone who technically doesn’t have a pulse. Or a heartbeat.
You would think so far this story is incredible as it is, but Tracey told us, “Mark is hooked up to batteries at all times. If you look at the picture of him running, you can see his battery pack. Anyways, last October (2016), he had a broken wire in the Lvad so they kept him in the hospital to wait for a donor’s heart.”
“We were told he wouldn’t come home without a new heart. All of October passed then November and the week of Christmas, they found out, he had cancer and they took him off the transplant list. They found cancer on his kidney by a fluke. They were looking at the wires but found cancer instead,” Sandy recounts, “They ended up replacing the electric heart pump. He became diabetic, then had a stroke, his first seizure, then he was in respiratory distress. Medication damaged his lungs.”
Mark is now cancer-free.
“I have what Iron Man has but not the Hollywood version! And, except I can’t fly,” Mark tells BBH. “The Lvad is great for people with end-stage heart failure or congestive heart failure. And when I tell people this it gives them hope. It not only has saved my life but changed my whole world for the better.”
“I now see everyone as equals and everyone is beautiful. I see seasons in detail, I see the need to help people that others frown upon. I see that life is too short to waste time.”
“I have learnt so much about the human body, me, how fragile life can be and where I want to be. Five years ago I was quiet and just had a regular life. Now I am confident and want to stand up in front of people and tell my story.”
If you have been inspired by Mark’s story, please let him know by visiting Heart of Mark.
His web page contains more about his story, photos, his kindness work, his Neighborhood Ministry, other projects he is working on, and SO MUCH MORE. He has a great sense of humor and just in my brief encounter, I can tell you I was deeply affected.
Tracey and Mark make giving a family affair. Tracey says, “Last weekend, we went to the dollar store and taped a $1.25 to random items like kid toys, food, and hygiene items. We covered the bar code so it wouldn’t scan. We stood on the road where the homeless stand and held signs. We paid for an elderly couples food at a restaurant. We went to where the homeless stay and passed out hygiene supplies, gloves, food and blankets. They let us into their home and showed the kids how they live. We try and spend a whole day once a month doing these sort of things. I keep hygiene products, and water in my car at all times to pass out. Kindness can go a long way.”
I don’t know about you but after hearing their story, I’m never complaining again about anything I’m going through. I encourage you to visit Heart of Mark to learn more, and if you can afford it make a donation of any amount (we all know a little from many adds up). In the spirit of giving, I hope you will do a couple kind acts as a tribute to the story you have read here.
Thank you for sharing Mark’s story.