Jan. 1—Last week, a few days before Christmas, Fairbanks resident Patrick Holland experienced a harrowing night of flight cancellations due to poor weather in Seattle that ultimately caused him to miss out on a perfect match for a heart transplant he needed.
This week, in response to a Daily News article about the ordeal Holland went through, dozens of readers reached out to offer the 57-year-old a temporary place to stay in Seattle while he waits for the next match to become available.
Holland and his wife, Haley, shared the good news in an update posted Thursday to a blog called "Big Heart," which the couple created to share Holland's journey to health with friends and family.
"The search is over — Patrick has found a place to stay!" they wrote. "After his interview with the Anchorage Daily News someone reached out and offered him an arrangement that we felt specifically suited his needs. We are grateful and extremely relieved."
[Previously: Bad weather snarled holiday travel for many. Flight cancellations cost one Alaskan a new heart.]
The couple also expressed gratitude to the many other people who offered him a place to stay, as well. Their story had been shared on national news outlets and broadcast on CNN, and the offers of places to stay came from far and wide.
"We are so appreciative of your efforts! The staggering kindnesses, incredible grace, and amazing generosity — from family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike — has astounded us. We have been left simply speechless," they wrote.
Holland has been living with congestive heart failure. Recent X-rays showed Holland's heart to be twice the size of a normal heart. His doctors have told him a heart transplant is his best chance at a longer life.
Holland received a call last week that the perfect match had become available — as long as he could get to the University of Washington Heart Institute in Seattle by the following day.
He tried but couldn't make it in time, due to one of the worst ice events Seattle had seen in years.
Freezing rain ended up temporarily shutting down all of the runways at Sea-Tac early Friday morning and led to hundreds of flight cancellations — including at least three flights that Alaska Airlines agents tried to book for Holland, to get him to Seattle before the heart had to be given away to someone else.
In Thursday's post, Haley and Patrick Holland made another ask of others: to consider becoming an organ donor.
"Register as an organ donor for Patrick and everyone we love who is on a transplant list. Pursue opportunities. You can live with one kidney. You can donate bone marrow. You might unexpectedly die tomorrow — give someone the gift of life and display that little heart badge on your driver's license.
"Thanks again to everyone for your time, your support, your encouragement, and your prayers," they wrote.