I first heard of the Eric De La Cruz Hope for Hearts Foundation when Veronica De La Cruz contacted my family and I found out she would be visiting me in my hospital room. I had been hospitalized for almost the same reasons as Eric. I, too, was waiting in the hospital for my heart transplant in hopes that it would come as soon as possible.

I can count my lucky stars that in my situation insurance was not an issue and I was able to receive my heart transplant after a 166-day stay in the hospital. However, that being said, that doesn’t take away from the enormous cost with which a heart transplant can burden a family.

That is where the Hope for Hearts Foundation was able to step in and help me and my family out, assisting with my expensive insurance because I was no longer working. It is because of people like Veronica and new laws in American health care that patients like myself can focus on what is occurring to us medically, instead of sitting there worrying about whether we will be able to get the medical attention we desperately need.

When staying in the hospital, the mental burden is 90% of the battle. It wears on the patient more than anyone can know. To know that Eric had to worry about so much more than just getting better makes me see I was lucky. It makes me see that the Supreme Court upholding the law was so important not only to me, but to so many others that find themselves with horrible diseases like myself, or stuck between a rock and hard place like Eric was.

Over the past several months, I’ve been given the opportunity to beat a horrible disease and received the gift of life through a heart transplant. This process allowed me to see what an amazing thing organ donation is, as well as experience the kindness of strangers like all those who are part of the Hope for Hearts Foundation community. So, for now, I can only sit back and hope that health care reform laws continue to work more and more in favor of patients like myself, so that Eric can smile down and see what good has come from his struggled and the Foundation he inspired.

Thank you to all those in the Hope for Hearts Foundation that supported me through my journey and helped me move on to live the life I have always hoped to live.


Colby Salerno