Still going strong at age 81

Charles Liszcz has been a jock his entire life.

He would run eight miles three days a week, and he enjoyed sailing, playing golf, and bowling. Now 81 years old, he continues to be in good shape, despite experiencing several health conditions.

It all started in 2000, when Charles got a heart stress test. His family had a history of cardiovascular disease, and he wanted to ensure he was healthy. However, he didn’t expect the results he received.

“It turned out that I had three arteries that were almost 100 percent blocked and needed a triple bypass surgery,” said Charles, who lives in Clear Lake, Texas. “I had no chest pain, no shortness of breath. I didn’t know I was a heart attack waiting to happen.”

Charles had cardiac surgery at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, and he recovered well.

“Being the fool I was, about 8 to 10 weeks after the surgery, I was out playing golf again. My recovery from the triple bypass was unbelievable and quick because my body was in pretty good shape.”

From there, he experienced other health conditions, including being diagnosed and eventually recovering from colon cancer and prostate cancer, and recovering from a ruptured aorta. But it was his heart damage that eventually led Charles to experience congestive heart failure. He would need a new heart to survive. Baylor St. Luke’s placed him on the heart transplant list in September 2005.

By January 2006, the hospital had found a match. “Since my transplant, I have followed orders well and have been on anti-rejection medications for 13 years.”

Charles’ new heart has enabled him to see and experience more than he ever imagined.

“My new heart has given me so much,” he said. “I have seen my children and grandchildren grow up. My wife and I have been to Hawaii, and did a four-week, 6,000 mile trip. My life has been absolutely fantastic.”

Though Charles has encountered other health challenges that have come with age, he is grateful to be alive and healthy. As a thank you for his care at Baylor St. Luke’s, he volunteers at the hospital a few hours a week through the Heart Exchange support group and visits with transplant patients.

“I joke that even if I just get a hangnail, I go to Baylor St. Luke’s,” he said. “There’s not even a one percent gap in my confidence in Baylor St. Luke’s and the care I get. The doctors and nurses really care, and that makes a big difference. I keep thanking God, my donor family and the staff at Baylor St. Luke’s for 13 years of life after death, because in a way, it’s almost like heaven.”