SECOND CHANCE: Donation Helps Coach Regain Health

Facing a devastating diagnosis, a metro man began his long journey to regain his health, and he has a stranger to thank.

You would never guess what the Windsor family has been through by watching them play. The family just welcomed home Father and Husband Freddie Windsor, 42, after he spent six months away.

Cindy Windsor says, “It was really overwhelming, and I felt like it’s something that happens to other people on T.V.”

Two years ago, the physically fit coach started feeling weak, and he had a cough that wouldn’t go away. Freddie says, “The cardiologist, I went there and he said, you know, you got heart failure, and I’m like what?”

Windsor learned a virus was attacking his heart. Medicine worked for most of the summer. But, four weeks before his son Zion’s birth, he needed more medical treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Freddie says, “The doctor came in: he says, ‘Freddie, you’re not going to make it. You don’t have weeks to live, you have days to live.”

Doctors gave him an LVAD, a Left Ventricular Assist Device, to help his heart while he was at home. That worked for a while, but last October, doctors admitted Windsor to Mayo’s Intensive Care Unit and gave him an artificial heart to keep him alive while he waited for a real one.

His wife says, “The whole time you’re praying for the perfect match, but then there’s this sad part of you that knows someone has to pass in order to save your husband, so someone has to lose their loved one to save mine.”

A couple months later, the Windsors got word. Freddie was getting his heart, along with a kidney he now needed. A young man passed away, leaving behind his organs. Freddie says, “January 18th, they opened me back up again, and I got a kidney and heart transplant. From there it has been lovely, just a nice ride, just breathing normal.”

Freddie spent three months at Mayo recovering from the transplant. Now, he has only the scars under his shirt as the visible reminder of the battle he survived.

Cindy says, “Organ donation, for me, has been the most beautiful gift that we could have possibly gotten to give Freddie another chance to be with our family.”

Freddie says, “It’s just a blessing. It’s a second chance.”

April is National Donate Life Month. More than 112,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant in the United States. More than 600 are waiting in Iowa. You can sign up to be an organ donor by checking the box when you get your driver’s license or go to the iowadonorregistry.org.

Friends are helping the Windsor family with benefit. The celebration and silent auction is Saturday, May 17 at PARC Event Center, 5374 NE 12th Avenue, Pleasant Hill. Admission is $5. The silent auction starts at 6 p.m. Live music from the band “The Authority” will follow.