Months after having a heart transplant, former Southmoreland graduate Matt Huff continues to move forward as he starts a life he has always wished to have. Following his September transplant, Huff has received the freedom from the condition he once had as he now lives life with no restrictions. However, it has been a very long journey.
“I have always tried to stay positive through Matt’s whole life by doing something as simple as treating him as if he was as normal as someone who didn’t have a congenital heart defect,”said Huff’s mother, Amy Huff. “You take advantage of all the years that he had. I feel that is how he stayed positive, and also our family, too.”
Only a day before his life-saving surgery, Huff was looking to check out of the hospital giving up hope on the possibility of the new life he soon would start to live.
“The day he told me he wanted to leave the hospital, I was very angry, hurt and confused,” Mrs. Huff confessed. “I couldn’t believe someone would not want to wait for something that would possibly save his life. That night I thought more about it, and when I did, I thought to myself that it’s not me going through this. I know how I felt watching him endure everything he has gone through, so how dare I take away his thoughts and fears.
“Even though I still didn’t agree with him, I had to let him know that I would support his decision in whatever he chose,” Mrs Huff continued. “I am so thankful God intervened and showed Matthew what His plan was for him.”
That plan from God did indeed happen, as Huff got the call from his transplant coordinator that they had found a perfect heart for him, just hours before he was to leave the hospital after months of frustration while waiting for a new heart.
Mrs.Huff said that the day her son’s donor heart was found, “It was very emotional. The call came from his transplant coordinator. It was almost hard to believe. Then Matthew called me and I just started crying. I felt happy, scared, worried, and thankful all at the same time. It’s hard to keep all of those emotions inside whenever you have to be strong for your son who is about to go through a heart transplant.”
While the transplant was successful, Huff faced some rejection to the heart from the antibodies that saw the heart as a foreign object.
“Before my transplant, I had a lot of antibodies in which we did rounds of chemo to try to get rid of some if not all of the antibodies,” said Huff. “However, we didn’t get rid of any, so they saw my heart as a foreign object and attacked it.”
Due to concerns over possible rejection, Huff now returns to Children’s Hospital once a month to undergo chemo infusions to get rid of or to stabilize the antibodies.
“ I think people think that once you have your transplant, that’s it. But there is so much more than that,” said Mrs.Huff. “Recovery is a process within its self. Many biopsies, doctor appointments, a lot of blood work, and taking a lot of medicines. Even though it means a better life, it still can be heartbreaking that he has to still endure some of these things.”
Huff continues to stay positive and push through his good and bad days with the help of his parents to encourage him as his mom refers to him as her “warrior.”
“One day I was looking through a magazine, and I came across a quote, and the first person I thought of was Matthew,” said Mrs.Huff.” The quote was: ‘God gives his greatest battles to his strongest warriors.’ I truly believe that with all my heart that he continues to be strong as he moves forward.”
As Huff continues to recover, he can finally can do things he was not able to do before the surgery.
“I have a job now, and I can do a lot more physical activities than before,” he said.
His mother also has encouraging words for him as he continues to to move forward from the life he once lived.
“ If I could tell Matthew one thing as he moves forward in life, it would be to never look back at all the hard times you had in your life,” said Mrs.Huff. “Think of all the positives that have come from the negatives. Such as all the wonderful and caring people you have met and how they were a influence in your life. Each time you conjured one of your battles in life you became stronger than you will ever know.
“And I feel that you are going to be an inspiration to many people,” Mrs. Huff continued. “Your new journey has just begun.”
Mrs. Huff said she fells her son “will do great things in life to help others, because he was given one of the greatest gifts of all life. And we are very thankful to the family and their loved one (who donated the heart). Who so unselfishly gave the gift of life. As Matthew goes through life, I know that he will never forget the kindness of a complete stranger that changed his life. Matthew’s family, friends, and even strangers are inspired by his journey through life.”
Huff will speak at an assembly on March 7 at Southmoreland High School to tell his story and his journey through this process.