Matt Ferreol grew up in Indiana, the Hoosier State, where basketball is life. Outside of faith and family, his world revolves around hoops — from coaching youth teams, to meeting famous players, to collecting memorabilia. But Matt’s greatest challenge happened off the basketball court, when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, resulting in the need for a transplant.
While he waited for a new heart, Matt had a Left Ventricular Assist Device implanted. While the LVAD changed his life, it could also be restrictive. “With the LVAD it was challenging to do things as simple as take a shower,” he said. “If I had to go through a metal detector, I had to present paperwork and explain to security.”
Matt faced those challenges head-on and continued to stay busy. He went back to school. He also traveled, whether it was related to coaching or returning to his home state to cheer on his beloved Pacers. In fact, because of his travel he missed out on his first opportunity to receive a transplant. While this could have been crushing to many, Matt didn’t let it faze him as he believed things would happen on “God’s time.”
His faith was tested as navigated his journey, but he relied on his beliefs to get him through. As much as he wanted a working heart, he never prayed for one. “In order for me to receive a transplant, I knew it would mean someone would have to die, and that is something I just cannot wish for,” Matt said.
After nine years of living on the LVAD, Matt was getting ready for a final exam when he got the call that a heart was available. This time, there was no barrier, and the transplant was successful.
Although Matt knows very little about his donor, he prays for him and his family every day. He also tries to honor this incredible gift by living a healthy lifestyle and aiming to be the best version of himself.
A new lease on life has given Matt a different perspective and a new gameplan on how to live. Even though he has a new heart and no longer relies on a device, he believes he can continue to provide support for the LVAD community, those awaiting a transplant, and fellow recipients. “I just think it is important for me to share my story to give others hope,” he said.
Because his father, Ed, has worked for LifeNet Health for over 30 years, Matt was familiar with transplantation long before he became a recipient. But he believes anyone can get the word out to be a driving force for donation. “Imagine your last act on Earth being a positive one that helps others,” he said. “If you’re not already for it, keep in mind one day you might need it.”