News - Heart to Heart: Alum's Transplant During Pandemic Reveals Health Care Challenges

Heart to Heart: Alum's Transplant During Pandemic Reveals Health Care Challenges

“Active” has always defined Toye Watts ’01. At GU, then Greenville College, he played soccer in the fall and ran track and field in the spring.  He participated in residence life as a resident chaplain and served on the Multicultural Organization Campus Activities Board.

After graduation, he fully engaged in new pursuits, including his flourishing dental practice near Nashville, Tennessee. Happily married to wife Malinda, he worked hard and exercised regularly. But earlier this year, his usual pace seemed taxing. Then, an even slower pace drained him.

“Over time, I started noticing that I couldn’t exercise like I used to. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t walk much,” said Watts. “I noticed that at work I started to sweat and get tired very quickly.” 

Watts.pngHeart disease did not run in his family.

Still, a series of tests led to a shocking diagnosis and rapid admittance into the hospital. At age 41, Toye had congestive heart failure and needed a heart transplant. His name went on “a list.”

To make matters worse, the viral climate of COVID-19 prohibited Malinda from seeing Toye.

Miraculously, a heart became available the night after he was put on the transplant list. He headed for major surgery alone, unable to see his family.

Friends set up a Go Fund Me page hoping to offset Toye’s medical expenses. More than 200 folks who knew and loved Toye contributed and surpassed the goal within five days. Toye, a member of GU’s alumni board, has been recovering since mid-April. We are thankful for his life.

Read more about the remarkable virtual community support Toye received in The Connection, a regional publication.

This story was published on September 23, 2020

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