New Heart, New Identity
In 1996, Rich DeVos’s heart problems worsened. Doctors told him he would die unless he underwent a heart transplant. Rich asked some questions about the procedure, then simply said, “Okay, let’s do it.”1 But it wasn’t quite that simple. There was a shortage of heart donors in the United States. Rich also had a rare A-B blood type, he was 70 years old, he had been through two bypass surgeries in the past, and he was in poor health. The odds of finding the right match in time were slim even if a doctor agreed to take his case given his age and the other factors. The hunt led to London, where Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon who had researched transplants, talked candidly with Rich. The physical trauma of the surgery was grueling enough, but surviving such a major operation also depended on the patient’s will and passion to live, the doctor told him. Rich convinced Dr. Yacoub that he had the grit and desire to persevere through the difficult surgery and recovery period. The doctor agreed to take his case.