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81-year-old heart transplant recipient celebrates ‘re-birthday’

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TWC News: 81-year-old heart transplant recipient celebrates ‘re-birthday’
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Some might say Twain Schieffer is a walking miracle. At the age of 56, his family thought they had lost him for good.

"He was basically dead when we had the heart transplant, and I remember the coordinator coming to us and saying that's his only hope," Schieffer’s daughter Shelley Bockhorn said.

Schieffer’s second chance at life that came from a man much younger than Twain—a 16-year-old Missouri teen killed in a car accident.

"We didn't get to know the family real well because they didn't want to talk to us about it, the mother who gave up the son's organs,” Twain said.

Still, Twain and his family are forever grateful, not only to the donor's family, but also for the transplant team.

"When you take that heart out and there's just this deep cavity with nothing there, it's pretty awesome,” cardiac surgeon Dr. John “Chip” Oswalt said. “Then you put the new heart in and as soon as it gets blood supply, it starts beating on its own.”

Twenty-five years after his transplant, the 81-year-old’s second heart is still ticking.

"Generally transplants were living around eight to 12 years at that time," Oswalt said.

Twain is the longest-living recipient in Central Texas, and still enjoying every minute of life.

"My wife, we go travel quite a bit,” he said. “She loves that I'm still living and we go wherever we need to go."

When Twain received his heart transplant in 1988, he says he was the 14th transplant recipient at Seton Medical Center. Now, the hospital has performed more than 300 transplants.

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