COLORADO SPRINGS — The outdoor hockey games at the United States Air Force Academy have brought many unique experiences to our city and community, and yes a few challenges.
There was a special moment last Friday at UCHealth Memorial Hospital North that only a handful of people witnessed. And it was a Valentine’s Day that UCHealth heart transplant patient Kirk Shiflett will never forget. Shiflett, who lives in Rocky Ford, had the chance to fulfill a dream of meeting a professional hockey player.
Kirk says his life experiences and his heart health journey [Kirk’s failing heart story] have taught him a lot. “You never know what's going to happen in life, and when you're literally on the edge of your deathbed and you don't know if you're going to survive, you just wish you could do the (simple) things you used to.”
Following a massive heart attack in 2016 – his fourth heart attack - Kirk was evaluated for a heart transplant. Kirk was hospitalized in January of 2018 at UCHealth in Aurora to have an LVAD - basically a heart pump - surgically implanted to keep him alive. [Kirk’s LVAD story] A huge Colorado Avalanche fan, he had the chance to meet a player while hospitalized, but that visit didn't work out.
Kirk remembers: “When it came to the actual day of meeting the pro hockey player I was so sick that I couldn't see anybody. He was right out in the hallway and I wished I could meet him, but I was so sick. I didn't want to see anybody, and they said, 'Why don’t we get you a rain check’.”
Following his heart transplant in May 2018, [Kirk’s transplant story] Kirk says many miracles have happened in his life, including now on Valentine’s Day of 2020 when he was able to cash in on the rain check and meet a professional hockey player, thanks to UCHealth.
Kirk says, “Miracles happen, I got married you know that was a wonderful thing, and I have new grandkids. The next thing you know you're meeting a pro hockey player!”
Former Avalanche defensemen John-Michael Liles came to UCHealth Memorial North to meet Kirk, and he came bearing gifts. Liles gave Kirk some Avs game tickets and a hockey stick and jersey, signed by the team.
Kirk and his wife Rose attended the Avalanche-Tampa Bay Lightning game at the Pepsi Center on Monday night. Kirk says, “Rose and I had such a great experience at the game!”
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