~Shared by Tammy Compton

“My father means the world to me. I can’t imagine my life without him.”

There’s no mistaking the love that Colleen Mitchell holds for her family, especially her dad. Soon to be 64, Glenn Mitchell will blow out his birthday candles the day after Father’s Day. But then again, every day is Father’s Day for the Mitchell family. Every day is a gift from God as Glenn awaits a much needed heart transplant.

colleen and dad
“My family has been through a hard time, but what family hasn’t,” Colleen shared. “When my mother was in labor with me, my father was in another hospital with my brother. My brother had a very rare cancer which is called Burkitt’s Lymphoma. At the time, one out of a million was diagnosed with this horrible disease. My brother was two-years-old when he passed away in my father’s arms, a week after I was born.”

“Ever since I took my first breath into this big huge world, my father has been my protector. The perfect saying is, “I am ‘Daddy’s Little Girl.'” I was very lucky to be born into such an amazing family. My father is one who I look up to for everything. We call him Mr. Encyclopedia. Any question you have, he knows the answer! There has not been a moment where we could stump him on a question. My father is a very strong man – a fighter – a person who doesn’t quit. Give him a task and he will accomplish it and never go down without a fight.”

“My father has taught me so many things throughout my life. He was always by my side: teaching me how to swim (I love the water, I was a little water bug); teaching me how to drive; going on college tours, helping me to pick the right university; and helping me land the perfect job. He pushed me through everything in my life. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I would be today.

colleen kids
“My first date was with my current boyfriend Kenny, which was back in the summer of 2007. When my father did meet him for the first time, he drilled him with the 20-questions game. My father does that with everyone; he loves talking and could talk to you for days about anything. He is a very down-to-earth type of guy.”

The best advice he’s ever given her? “Never give up, never start a task without finishing it. Always stay positive and most importantly, if you want something in life, you have to go out and work for it,” Colleen said.

When it comes to things that make her laugh about her dad, Colleen says it’s definitely his crazy endearing personality. “You never know what’s going to come out of his mouth next. I definitely see my dad in myself by the way I talk and certain things I do. I realize I act just like him.”

“Recently, back in January, my dad’s health went downhill. He was at a hardware store with my brother and blacked out. My brother helped him slowly to the ground. He had arrhythmia, which is a problem with the rate/rhythm of the heart beat. Thankfully, he has a defibrillator that was put in three years ago that saved his life,” Colleen said. 

A trip to the hospital found Glenn deciding to update his defibrillator. “The new defibrillator would connect on both sides of the heart,” Colleen explained. “He went through the surgery on a Friday. Saturday he was released from the hospital. That evening is when he went completely downhill. My family from New York had left after dinner. My father was on all new medication; he had two more pills to take that evening. No more than 10 minutes after, my brother heard gurgling. He ran to my father, and I hurried behind him shortly after.

“When I walked into the room, I saw my brother behind my dad, holding his body on the bed. My father’s face was drooping. He was slurring his words and drooling. I knew this night was going to be bad. Scared completely, I frantically called 9-1-1,” Colleen remembered.

Tests at the hospital revealed a blood clot on the right side of his brain. He was having a stroke. Life-flighted to Lehigh Valley Hospital, he underwent emergency surgery to remove 90 percent of the clot; the remaining 10 percent would dissolve on its own. Having suffered paralysis on the left side of his body, each day Glenn was improving. “He shocked everyone, even the doctors. My father is a fighter. With the love and power of prayer, he made it through,” Colleen said.

He has overcome so much, yet the family knows he willl have to have a heart transplant in the future.

“His heart fraction level bounces from five to 15 percent which is not good. It should be about 55 to 70 percent,” Colleen explained. The heart ejection fraction (EF) measures how well the heart is pumping out blood, and it helps to diagnose and track heart failure.

“If he gets a transplant, the first year survival rate is 90 percent, then up to 10 years it is about 70 percent,” Colleen said.  “To receive a heart, it costs about a million dollars. We’re hoping and praying insurance covers a large majority of it because at this point my dad is in critical condition.”

As of Tuesday, May 28, 2013, my father passed all the tests and was put on the waitlist for a heart. They’re praying for a miracle. “The two biggest concerns are getting a heart in time and praying the new heart does not reject,” she said.

Since her dad has O-negative blood, he can only receive a heart from an O- or O+ donor.  He will also require eight pints of O- blood for the surgery, which is the only type of blood he will be able to receive. “O negative blood is the rarest and can be difficult to get,” Colleen said.

Please contact Colleen if you’d like to be considered as a blood donor.  

“My father means the world to me. I can’t imagine my life without him. He is the one I turn to for everything in my life. He calls me every night just to see how my day was and to make sure that I’m home safe. I’m grateful to still be blessed with his presence.”

Colleen Mitchell is in the Management Trainee program at Woodloch Pines Resort and works at the Front desk and Reservations department.