Northwestern Medicine

Chicago Blackhawks Players Visit Heart Transplant Patient

Northwestern Memorial Hospital June 23, 2011

Lifelong fan receives surprise visit from players and days later makes goal – a new heart

CHICAGO, IL – Eddie Snype, a lifelong Chicago Blackhawks fan, received a memorable surprise from players Ryan Johnson and Jake Dowell last week. Snype, who was awaiting a heart transplant at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, reached out to the team in hopes of simply getting a photo, but instead received a personal visit from the players, a jersey donning his name and a hockey stick signed by the entire team.

“I was completely surprised,” said Snype. “To think that Ryan and Jake would take time out of their short summer to visit me in the hospital is amazing.”

Snype, 47, has a history of cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood efficiently. For many years following his diagnosis at the age of 26, Snype’s condition only required close monitoring. However, in 2002, things changed when Snype experienced a potentially lethal irregular heart rhythm and required the use of an implantable defibrillator to monitor and control his heart activity.

“I had thought I was in the clear,” said Snype. “It had been awhile since I had experienced heart trouble, but things took a turn for the worse very quickly.”

Synpe underwent three surgeries over the course of the next eight years and in 2010 was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. A heart transplant would be his only hope for recovery.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Snype. “I never dreamed this would happen to me. All I could think about was my family and how I wanted to watch my children grow.”

It was then that Snype sought care from experts at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. Doctors confirmed that Snype needed a heart transplant, but explained that he would first need to get healthy enough to withstand a transplant and had a heart pump installed. In February 2011, Snype was deemed healthy enough to be put on the list for a transplant and began the next phase of his already long journey.

“After months of waiting for a transplant, it’s hard to stay positive and the days seem long,” said Snype. “The visit from Jake and Ryan was a nice pick-me-up and a gesture that brought a huge smile to my face. Before they left, they even said they hope to skate with me sometime.”

Days later, Snype got the phone call he had been long awaiting saying he would receive a new heart.

“It was the best day of my life,” said Snype. “I can’t wait to start the next chapter of my life and get home to my family.”

As Snype recovered in the hospital, he was visited by countless friends and family members who had been cheering him on all along.

“When you are sick, you need a team of supporters to get you through. Jake and Ryan were a part of that team for me and I am very grateful for their generosity,” said Snype.

Snype is thankful to the doctors and nurses for their care and support, and to the Chicago Blackhawks for lifting his spirits during his journey. He plans to live every moment to its fullest and looks forward to the day when he can take the players up on their offer to come skate. “I’ll see them on the ice,” said Snype.

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