Home Heart Transplant Heart transplant recipient Frank Spurlin dies at 76

Heart transplant recipient Frank Spurlin dies at 76

7 min read

The Lakeland resident was the longest-living heart transplant recipient in Florida, according to a spokeswoman from Tampa General Hospital. In 1985, Spurlin became the second person to receive a heart transplant at the hospital.

LAKELAND — Glen Frank Spurlin, who gained an extra 33 years of life after a heart transplant, has died at 76.

The Lakeland resident was the longest-living heart transplant recipient in Florida, according to a spokeswoman from Tampa General Hospital. In 1985, Spurlin became the second person to receive a heart transplant at the hospital.

Spurlin's widow, Marie Spurlin, said her husband, known as Frank, died on his own terms Sept. 26.

“It was hard for all of us to recognize he wasn't going to be able to get well this time,” she said. “He has come back so many times over the years, but he wasn't able to make it this time. He tried; he sure tried. He didn't stop fighting until Wednesday morning. He told me he'd seen a big, bright light, and he wanted to go to Jesus. He wanted all the things disconnected from him so he could be free.”

Marie Spurlin, 73, said her husband had been in the intensive-care unit at Tampa General for about nine weeks before he died.

Spurlin said her husband had to have a leg amputated because of bone cancer in 1977. The chemotherapy treatment he received at the time “burned his heart up,” she said, leading to the need for a transplant.

Frank was 43 when he received his heart transplant on June 21, 1985. His widow said he probably would have lived only a few more days without receiving a new heart.

She credited Lakeland cardiologist Kevin F. Browne Jr. for alerting her husband to the possibility of a transplant at Tampa General. At the time, transplant recipients were only expected to live five to 10 years, she said, but the development of immuno-suppressant drugs that lessened the risk of the body rejecting the transplant gave her husband more than three decades.

Marie said her husband faithfully took Cyclosporine, an anti-rejection drug, twice a day for years.

Soon after the transplant, Frank learned he had received the heart of a man who died in a vehicle accident in South Carolina at age 20. He talked by phone with the man's family, Marie said, and later met with one of his friends.

Frank, who had been an industrial engine salesman, wasn't able to return to work because of insurance policies, his widow said. But he remained a physically active person for decades.

“Frank did everything, anything he wanted to do after he had the transplant,” she said. “He was able to stay busy all the time, and that's the kind of person he was. He was never idle; he never watched TV. He was always doing things to help neighbors and friends. He was always willing to stop what he was doing to go help.”

In recent years, the couple spent summers in the mountain town of Franklin, North Carolina. Marie said even when they were away, friends would call for Frank's advice on home repairs.

“When our grandchildren were here earlier this year, our oldest grandson is 17, and he said, 'Grandpa, if I could just get some of that knowledge out of your head,'” she recalled.

Frank's family celebrated the 25th anniversary of his transplant in 2010, when he gathered with his grandchildren.

“My heart is pumping and I feel fantastic,” he told a Ledger reporter at the time. “I am still amazed that I am here, that I'm still alive.”

Frank is survived by two brothers, who live in Alabama. The Spurlins had two sons, one of whom died of leukemia at age 24. Their surviving son, Dale, lives in Kansas with his wife, Dixie, and their five children ranging in age from 6 to 17.

The family has scheduled a service for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Parkview Baptist Church, 509 Parkview Place, in Lakeland.

Gary White can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7518. Follow him on Twitter @garywhite13.

Source link

Want more stuff like this?

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don’t worry we don’t spam

Check Also

Adopt these tips for a healthy heart!

Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death in India. Diabetes, high blood …