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Richard Gates joined hands with his wife Barbara as they pedaled from Brigham Circle down Francis Street, the final leg of a nearly 800-mile bicycle ride that began in his native Ohio. Gates, who received a heart transplant at BWH in 2004, finished his Tour de Second Chance ride at the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center last week.
“I was riding not only to challenge myself and to raise awareness of organ donation needs, but also to give thanks to thousands of people who help make transplantation possible,” said Gates, now a Jamaica Plain resident.
Familiar faces greeted Gates as he made his way to the Shapiro Center entrance where he received congratulations from James Kirshenbaum, MD, his cardiologist, Eldrin Lewis, MD, Linda James, NP, and others.
“Richard is exceptional,” Lewis said. “The goal for all transplant patients is to get them to be able to not only live longer, but to live better and be able to do what they could do before.”
Along his route, Gates stopped at medical centers to visit people on the transplant waiting list for a new heart. At BWH, he talked with Jackie Crothers, a patient on Shapiro 9 and an avid bike rider who has been on the list for four years. Gates told her about his diagnosis with cardiomyopathy, and the pair chatted about what it’s like to wait.
“It was an honor to meet Jackie,” he said. “Two women visited me while I was waiting for a transplant in 2004, and they gave me hope and enabled me to look ahead to the future and the possibilities.”
Crothers said she enjoyed talking with Gates and found his ride—and his example—inspiring. “I was grateful for the visit,” she said, adding that it was helpful to talk with someone on the other side of transplant who is doing so well.
Lewis told news reporters gathered at Gates’ finish line the importance of such conversations between transplant recipients and those waiting. “People who have gone through it can give a unique perspective,” Lewis said.
Gates hopes that his ride will inspire people to become donors. “If one person becomes a donor because of this, then it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
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