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Father celebrates new heart on Valentine's Day

Posted at 6:10 PM, Feb 14, 2018

Valentine's Day is a day many of us are celebrating love. But one couple is celebrating love and so much more. For them, the heart, is much more than a symbol.

After 22 years together, Valentine's Day isn't what it once was for Brad Keefer and Stephanie Eigenberg.

"I will surprise her once in a while," Keefer says. "Once you're with someone for so long it's one of those take it for granted things right?"

But this year, their hearts have been renewed, literally. Just a week ago, Keefer had a heart transplant that saved his life.

"That's my valentine," Keefer said touching his chest. "Valentine's Day, my love is my wife and so with her in this I can't fail now."

The 46-year-old father and grandfather was born with an abnormal heart valve, and as he got older things got worse. He desperately needed a heart, but struggled with the decision.

"I didn't want to take someone else's joy for me and they don't even know me," Keefer said. "Why do I deserve it and not somebody else."

His family encouraged him as they waited, choosing to believe the heart would come. And months later Keefer's nurse told them, it did.

"You know his numbers haven't been real good,"  Eigenberg says. "And she's like I just wanted to talk to you guys about that and she's like you guys will never have to worry about that again because a heart came in."

Dr. Muhammad Aftab is a heart surgeon at UCHealth and says there have been great improvements in the last decades to prevent organ rejection.

"Currently our patients have really extra ordinary life expectancy and quality of life after heart transplantation," Dr. Aftab said. "And we are talking in terms of decades."

"I am really excited that he can now mow our yard," Eigenberg says.

It's the small things Keefer and Eigenberg are now looking forward to. More time with family, and enjoying every moment.

"My life just started over last week that's the way I look at it," Keefer says. "So I'm going to do everything in my power to keep it going and honor the person that gave me this."

He's planning to start, with the day of love. "Valentine's Day?" Keefer muses. "Who knows we might go on a trip you never know. Without the kids."