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Alaska man misses heart transplant due to flight cancellations at Sea-Tac

Patrick Holland needed to fly from Fairbanks, Alaska to Seattle for a heart transplant. After flights were grounded Friday, he missed the chance for a new heart.

SEATTLE — Patrick Holland needed to fly from Fairbanks, Alaska to Seattle for a heart transplant. He was 1,500 flight miles away from a second chance at a longer life, but because of hundreds of cancellations at Sea-Tac Friday his heart went to the next person on the list.

“It’s scary because your body says 'Let’s go, let’s go' and your heart says 'No',” said Patrick Holland.

Holland is battling congestive heart failure and was put on the active transplant list three weeks ago.

“I can’t wait for the day where I get the transplant and enjoy life again,” Holland said.

Last Thursday evening, he got a call from UW Heart Institute that a heart for him was becoming available. The news came with a rush of emotions.

“I moved on from scary to excited to the possibility of getting 10, 20 years, maybe even 30 years,” Holland said.

Holland said doctors in Seattle gave him an eight-hour window to get to the hospital and he booked the next flight out.

It was a call he wasn’t expecting so soon. When he arrived at the Fairbanks airport, his overnight flight to Seattle was canceled. Holland told an Alaska Airlines agent his story and they got him on the next flight.

Holland said after four hours in the air, came an unexpected announcement. 

“I heard the pilots say welcome to Anchorage,” Holland said.

The flight had to be rerouted because the ice storm grounded all flights at Sea-Tac. After three canceled flights in Anchorage, the window for a new heart closed.

“I think I cried more that day than I have in my life and had exerted every emotion that I’d never had,” Holland said.

He then took that pain and turned it into something positive.

“To get out of that funk, I immediately said, 'Thank God, there's going to be a family that saving someone's dad saving someone's brother, saving someone's, someone's uncle,'" Holland said.

Holland is a father of seven, and his children’s ages range from three to 36. He joked about wanting more.

“I came from a big family so I always told my wife I would like to have 10 kids," Holland said. "She said, 'Maybe if you get the new heart.'”

For them, he’s staying hopeful and looking forward to the days when he can play with them more.

“I've had an amazing 17 years with a wife, and my kids and to be able to watch the next two graduate would be just phenomenal," Holland said. "I mean, it'd be a miracle, really tell the truth, it'll be a miracle."

Holland’s suitcase is staying packed and he plans to come to Seattle in two weeks. He’s trying to find a place to stay so he doesn’t miss another opportunity for a new heart.

“I will be closer, there'll be no storms to stop me," Holland said. "It would take a completely different act of God to stop me."

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