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Man celebrates 20 years after having a heart transplant

By Karissa Manis, Producer, kmanis@wcyb.com
Published On: Feb 02 2013 10:21:52 PM CST
KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

Glenn Keup is surrounded by his family and friends, something he's thankful for after suffering a heart attack more than 20-years ago.
"Major heart attack in December of '92, had a bypass and right after the bypass, the back side of the heart blocked up, and there was nothing they could do on the back side of the heart," says Keup.


He tells News 5 only about 16 percent of his heart was functioning, and he needed a transplant.
"They called different transplant places like Duke and Vanderbilt, and my statistics at that time were so low for getting a transplant or even being transported there."

But luckily, Birmingham, Alabama was willing to take on the surgery.
"I got put on the list on January 4th officially and February 3rd a heart became available in the Birmingham area," Keup continues.

He says, what happened that day was a twist of fate.
"It was supposed to go to the lady down the hall from me, but she had a fever that day. So it kicked it back to me and she got a transplant two weeks later."

Glenn's friends and family say they're not only here celebrating his life, but they also want to point out the importance of donating organs.
"There's so many people out there that are on waiting lists that are really dying. Because people are not donating their organs," says Keup's friend Frank Read.

For the one's who have donated, like the 23 year old woman who's heart Keup received, he says he's forever grateful.
"I was able to see everything that I could here. I was able to raise two boys, see them go through high school. Watch my wife graduate from college and watch myself just change different careers as I got older.
My son get married and have two little grandchildren. I never though i'd see grandchildren, but I did!"

If you would like more information about becoming an organ donor, you can visit www.donatelifeva.org for Virginia residents  or  www.tndonorregistry.org for Tennessee.