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From Under The Bottom To The Very Top of Mayo's Heart Transplant List

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God bless you.

Lean over and tell somebody near you, "Lacy Banks told me to tell you

that God is still in the blessing business."

Sisters and brothers, as of yesterday (Nov. 16, 2010), The Mayo Clinic's

main unit, in Rochester, Minn., has elevated me to the very top of their heart

transplant list.

I am now in the 1A classification, the clinic's highest, with nobody ahead of

me for B-positive blood types.

If I get my healthier heart within the next month, I want to retire within the

following six weeks. This is half the time normally accorded for heart

transplantation recovery. But it will give me time to have the operation covered by

a major insurance carriers as primary provider and Medicare as secondary, thus

sparing my wife and me exorbitant out-of-pockets expenses. It would also provide

valuable time to make the transition to Medicare as primary provider and find the

best Medicare supplement.

At age 67, I believe I am the oldest reporter at the paper. I have been

working for the Sun-Times for 38 years and two and a half months. I'm tired

children. Joyce, my wife of 42 years and girlfriend for 49, has already returned

at age 65. And she makes me sick being able to chill whenever she wants to.

I want to get me new heart, retire, preach God's word better than ever and enjoy

some retirement. My mama died at 42 and never got to retire. My father died at

64, after pastoring for 50 years. He never retired and we never had health

insurance and we had to pass the hat to help bury him. My father-in-law also died

at age 64 just months after he had retired. I pray to do better for my family.

When a heart becomes available in the Mayo Clinic's midwest region of

Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, I will be its first recipient if the heart is for

my blood type and body size. If a heart, within my blood type and body size,

becomes available within 500 miles of Rochester, to include Chicago, St. Louis,

Kansas City, Etc., I would also qualify for it after the first regional option has been

exhausted and if I am the leading candidate within 500 miles..

According to Jody Hanson, my heart transplant coordinator of the clinic,

there is "a very strong possibility," some rank it as high at 70 percent, that I will

receive my new heart within a month.

Because I am being sustained by a heart pump, or Heartmate II LVAD (left-

ventricular assist device), and because I am 385 miles away from Rochester and

not an in-patient in Rochester, I am being accorded this privileged rank through

the month of December.

Joyce and I already have our bags pack and a choice or two air

ambulances and two private jets on standby alert to fly us to Rochester within

the four hours they want me to be on the operating table once they locate a

heart for me.

In the spring of this year, I had all along hoped to retire no later than the end

of next month because I was hoping to have had my new heart by now.

Unfortunately, I had suffered a critical setback. False information in a Jan. 11 phone

call from Sheri Stokes, Blue Cross Blue Shield, telling me that my Sun-Times

employment and health insurance coverage had been terminated, excited me into

a heart attack (more specifically, a cardio-genic shock) as I desperately called

Jeannie Smyers, Barbara Ercoli, my union reps, my sports editor and others at the

paper trying to confirm the devastating news.

By the time I was assured, by Jeannie and Barbara, that this was false

information, I had spent 30 days in the hospital--rotating between South Suburban

Hospital, Northwestern Hospital and the University of Chicago Medical Center--

trying to save my life. I was placed on three-day life support twice before I

underwent open-heart surgery to have the heart pump implanted by Dr. Valluvan

Jeevanandam on Jan. 29 at the UCMC.

I resumed work for the Chicago Sun-Times on April 5.

I appreciate the patience and generous cooperation by the Sun-Times in

helping ease the load during this period of my grave health issues. I know that the

paper has been laying off employees younger and more talented. I am presently

conversing with human resources and union insurance reps to lay the foundation

for my retirement and transition in insurance coverage.

It's been 31 months since Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, University of Chicago

Medical Center chief cardiac surgeon, and Dr. Allen Anderson, UCMC's ace

cardiologist, diagnosed me for end-stage congestive heart failure and told me I

needed a heart transplant to live longer than three or four years.

But in the process of examining to make sure I was healthy enough to risk

being given somebody else's precious heart, I was disqualified when they

discovered a cancerous brain tumor on my brain and a cancerous prostate tumor.

During these last 31 months, after God blessed me to be examined and

treated by 97 different doctors at eight different hospitals in three different states,

my brain tumor and prostate cancer have been brought under control, I have been

implanted with a heart pump and I have rallied from being refused admittance to

the national heart transplant list to rising to the very top of it.

Thank you, Jesus!

In the Mayo Clinic's midwest region, that includes Minnesota, Wisconsin

and the Dakotas, NOBODY is ahead of me among B-positive blood types. If a

heart becomes available in a more remote region during this period, then I will be

eligible to receive that heart, too, so long as it is a B-positive blood-type heart.

Each year some 800,000 patients around the world need a heart transplant.

Only 3,500 receive them.

Some 4,000 Americans need a heart transplant each year. Less than 2,000

get them. At Mayo Clinic, 97.7 percent of heart transplant recipients survive at least

one month, 94.85 survive at least one year, 80 percent survive three years and 75

percent survive at least five years.

As I told y'all before, I feel guilty and unworthy knowing somebody has to die

for me to get his or her heart. Then I calm down and think scientific progress. Death

has always been inevitable with us humans. But God has blessed medical science

to acquire the skill to salvage organs from dead donors and transplant them to save

the lives of others.

My wife, Joyce, my family, friends, Sun-Times staff and you readers have

been most comforting and encouraging to me. Thank you. More than 1,000

comments have been submitted to my blog (,

where I have been keeping you informed of my situation.

Once I am told a heart is available, I must be on the operating table in

Rochester in four hours. Joyce and I already have our bags packed and four

different air ambulances and private charter planes are ready to transport me.

Regardless of the outcome, I will inform you myself.

"Yeah, but how is Lacy Banks going to keep us informed if he is dead?",

well you just relax and let me assure you that while we're all trying to figure it out,

God has already worked it out.

God bless you.

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Rev, I am still stubborn and checking your blog every day (sometimes twice a day) and am so glad to read the happy news of you rising to the top of the list as the cream of the crop ought to. You know all of our prayers are with you and Joyce and the eventual donor and their family. And you know what? I have no doubt that you WILL personally deliver the outcome to us. Why? 'Cause Jesus didn't bring us this far to leave us now! Hallelujah! Your friend, Marie.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Me, neither. I also don't believe God has brought me this far to turn around and leave me twisting in the wind. I don't believe it. But He IS God and He does whatever He wants regardless of whether we agree or disagree, understand or don't understand. He has already done much, much more than I understand. And even much . much more than I deserve. I'm just happy to have God in my life, to have Jesus as my Savior and to have the Holy Ghost and His fire burning hot in my soul. It doesn't really get any better than that in this crazy ol' sin-sick world. I thank God for my joy, my peace and my hope. I thank Him especially for the angelic likes of you.

That's quite a blood type you have there, Lacy J.: B-positive, as in Be Positive. Be positive that your time has arrived. Be positive that this Thanksgiving will be a special one, for there is more than ever for which to be thankful. Be positive that this is your time to be healed.

So glad that your long journey to the top has been realized. Now you can get on to the business of getting that new heart and healing. It's your time of resurrection now.

A few years back, I worked with a woman whose son had cystic fibrosis and urgently needed a lung transplant. During the Thanksgiving holiday, he got the call and had his transplant. He is, today, living on his own and healthy. Feel free to follow in his footsteps this year.

When the call comes and you travel North for this crucial step, remember that you go with the loving best wishes of a lot of people who have followed your progress. That's a lot of healing energy wishing you Godspeed and God Bless.

I hope this is your best Thanksgiving ever.

BANKS' RESPONSE: I feel the wonderful warmth of healing in the air, John. My healing. I feel it being mailed to me in due season. I feel something strong coming on. It's getting brighter as it draws nearer. My healing from my Lord draws near.

Hi Rev. Banks...You,your family and the soon to b e donor family are in my prayers too. Thank you for sharing your journey via this blog. You have been an inspiration to me and many others. I've written a comment a few times but for some unknown reason never finished the process of submitting it. I am not a sports fan so I never read any of your sports columns but I am sure glad I stumbled upon your blog. Maybe God led me to it. Thank you again for your words of wisdom and for sharing your faith.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank God for giving you His grace to finally finish and submit a comment. Thank you so very much for the many times you read my blog and only whispered a prayer on my behalf. Prayers to God for my healing are more valuable than comments to me.

I was going write God bless you but he clearly already has. May the Holy Spirit give you the gifts of joy peace and patience as you continue your mission and ministry.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank you, Andy, and God bless you.

Lacy, I wish you nothing but the best as you prepare for your journey to Mayo. Every time I see your byline, I think about you and your health issues and how you have a special ability to deal with them in such a positive way. As Thanksgiving approaches, please know that you're in my thoughts.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Ahhhh, Bob Richards. The master marathoner. The quiet giant. The ceaseless warrior. How privileged I was to work with you. How privileged I am to still be a thought in your marvelous mind. God bless you and your family, Bob Richards. Thanks for your Thanksgiving greeting.

I read your story on facebook. My husband went through what you are going through two years ago at the age of 39. We have definitely been blessed. It's amazing how god works in everyone's lives. We wish you and your family the best and we will be following your story. Have a happy Thanksgiving and God bless you!!

BANKS' RESPONSE: Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, too, Christie. I pray that your husband came through his health challenge by the healing grace of God. You did not say. God bless you,

I also just found your story on Facebook, and I want to send my good wishes to you. I had a heart transplant 8 years ago at Loyola Medical Center, and this new heart has literally changed my life. I have a strong healthy heart now, and I have not had any major problems since my transplant. I also had an LVAD, but I was not able to have the portable machine, so I had to stay in the hospital and wait for a heart to be chosen for me. I had many questions and concerns about what my life would be like with a transplanted heart, and it was a great help to talk to others who had also received a heart transplant. If you ever have any questions about what you can or can not do as a transplant recipient, or if your family wants to talk to other caregivers, please check out this group; Organ Transplant Support. The website for this group of over 1000 transplant recipients is, and the Facebook group is also called otsfriends. There are several members who received transplants at Mayo Cllinic, and I am sure that they can answer any questions or concerns that you may have. Good luck, and your future will be much better with a strong, healthy heart.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Wow, Carol! I already had so much, maybe even too much, to properly thank God for on this Thanksgiving holiday. And then He dropped you in right smack out of the blue. Yours are just the kind of first-hand information and testimony that any candidate and I deeply yearn for and cherish. God bless you for sharing. Thanks for the link, too.

Dear Lacy: What wonderful news to see on Thanksgiving morning. I saw your name in Richard Prince's Journal-isms column and, shame on me, assumed something bad. Instead, every time I check your blog I see something so positive and rewarding. So much that I have become in sportswriting is because of you and the other veterans who greeted me, welcomed me and guided me when I first started covering the NBA so many years ago. It was an honor and a joy to be called a colleague and friend of yours - whoa, let me catch myself, it still is! Continued good health, good luck and great blessings, Lacy.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Ahhh, David. My stainless Steele colleague. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from me and mine. God bless you all.

hola senor banks,

i've been diagnoed with congestive heart failure. born in chicago and living in north carolina, i found that blessings have been flowing since the day i was placed in a helicopter to be admitted to sentara virginia beach hospitals.

its a bit scary but, i've been blessed to have met really dedicated health care workers in both ststes of north carolina and virginia.
my cardiac clinic nurse---mrs. kim chalot has really encouraged me to change small things in my life to make a difference in how my tratments and medicines would effect my body.

As a mom of a 22yr.old, my daughter is so over this----she wants to ignore the facts and just pretend that i never had a stent placed into my heart.
I stopped attending college so that i could get used to the medication.

well, keep on smiling mr Lacy Banks, I pray that you and your wife get to enjoy your retirement by going someplace sunny and fun.

Peace and Blessings,

kjean miller

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank God your heart issues were not more serious and that your symptoms were relieved by a stenting. I first underwent a triple bypass and often feel that a stenting would have been better for me at that time. Once I underwent a bypass, no life insurance company would issue a new policy on me. I urge you to take care that your heart doesn't get less healthier and that you get the best life insurance policy now while the rates would be more affordable. You could get a 10-year or 20-year fixed rate. Please seek God's care first and foremost and do your best to take care of yourself, too.

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Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on November 17, 2010 3:52 PM.

Where There's A Will, There's A Way To Worry Less was the previous entry in this blog.

Faith In God is Lightening The Weight of Waiting is the next entry in this blog.

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