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Heart transplant recipient celebrates second chance at life, first anniversary with wife at St. Luke’s in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nate Miller, 30, has been living life with an enlarged heart since he was 15 years old. In late 2016 his condition quickly deteriorated to the point that he needed a heart transplant. He traveled from St. Louis to St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City for the surgery.

"When I saw the number on my phone I showed my wife and I was like ‘I think this is the call’ and she said ‘well answer it!’ I was like OK, here we go," Nate recalled.

The voice he heard on the other line not only delivered good news, but a second chance at life.

"It’s hard to describe. I don’t know if I’ve fully wrapped my head around how amazing it really is," Nate said.

Nate waited just 16 days on the donor's list before receiving a new heart, and it came just in time.

"I did not know a year ago today what the vows of marriage really stood for in sickness and in health, but I think that we can say that we know what those mean now," Michelle Miller, Nate's wife and a nurse, said.

After the transplant the Miller's celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary while in the hospital and could turn their attention to the birth of their first child, a baby boy who is due in May.

"That has been extremely exciting and now I get the opportunity to play with my son and be the father I want to be," Nate said.

The Miller's moved to St. Louis from Colorado to be closer to family and what they didn't realize is they also moved closer to the hospital and donor who would save Nate's life.

"I think if things hadn’t happened the way they did, I hate to think of what would have happened, because he may not have survived," Dr. Andrew Kao, a cardiologist at St. Luke's Hospital, said.

"Having the family, friends, and support system that I have, I would have never made it to where I am right now," Nate said.

Nate is eager to use this second chance at life to honor the donor who gave him the chance to live his.

"I know there is going to be a lot of work. I know this is not the end of this adventure, journey. But I’ve got a lot of work in front of me and I just want to be able to give myself the best opportunity to continue to be healthy and treasure this amazing gift that I was given," Nate said.

If you are interested in learning more about organ donation or how you can sign up to become a donor, you can visit Donate Life Kansas or The Midwest Transplant Network.