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Canyon Springs teacher seeking a new heart

Posted at 4:00 PM, Nov 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-22 19:00:20-05

A Canyon Springs High School teacher remains in his classroom as he awaits a new heart.

Marty Vece's condition -- cardiomyopathy -- is so bad that he is exhausted just from getting dressed.

"I'm 45. I'm young. But I don't feel young these days," he said. "There's days when I feel like I'm very, very old."

This past year, Marty's quality of life quickly deteriorated. And since Las Vegas doesn't offer the transplant services he needs, he had to go to UCLA for a heart transplant.

His wife Elizabeth said there was a lot of stress -- both financial but also worrying about Marty's health. His wife packed up their home, and moved their 3 girls to California where Marty was told he'd need to live for 6 months.

But when he got there, doctors determined his lungs were overtaxed and he wouldn't survive a heart transplant.

So Marty got an LVAD -- left ventricular assist device -- which pumps his blood for him. It was a catch 22 because the LVAD improved his health so much, he's been bumped back down on the transplant list.

Still, his quality of life is not good. And his family is still hoping for a heart.

"And then there is the guilt of thinking someone else has to lose their life for us to get a heart transplant," Elizabeth said.

And that may be the hardest part. Marty says he struggles with guilt that someone must die so he can live. It's an extraordinary gift. One he hopes more people will consider giving.

"Before all of this happened to me, I was like the majority of people about organ donorship," he said. "I was ignorant of the situation. I was a donor but I had no idea how low the percentage of organ donors there are out there."

But for his girls' sake, he's hoping this story will help change that.

Marty says Canyon Springs High School, where he's been a teacher for 10 years, has been incredibly supportive. His health insurance will cover the transplant.

Problem is it doesn't cover living expenses in California or loss of income -- and he's required to stay there after the transplant for at least 6 months.

The family will rely on donations to stay afloat. If people would like to donate, they can go to Help Hope Live and go to Marty's patient page.