JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Room 245 at the Mayo Clinic has become the Leonard Larramore’s home for the past five months.
“You have CHF, your heart is down to like 7 percent, your heart is supposed to beta at 50 percent or better,” Larramore said.
The Jacksonville native used to play in the NFL. His short career with the Buffalo Bills ended after a pair of injuries.
He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2009 shortly after Reggie White, also a former NFL player died in his sleep. The diagnosis came more than a decade after Larramore hung up his cleats.
“The NFL sent out emails saying any players especially linemen go and get yourself checked out,” he said. Larramore said he also suffered from high-blood pressure since playing football at Raines High School and sleep apnea.
“Sometimes it's taxing because you can’t believe, this is happening to me,” said his wife, Naishanda Larramore.
Together, they’re hoping for a miracle and praying for someone else’s heart.
“We are humbled by the fact that we are relying on someone else to give us such a special gift,” she told First Coast News.
In the meantime, an artificial heart powered by batteries is keeping Larramore alive. They believe they would not be able to continue their journey had it not been for the Mayo Clinic.
“Many people have been affected in a wonderful way through the work of the incredible transplant team here at our hospital,” said Dr. Andrew Keaveny.
Keaveny said since the program was established, doctors have performed more than 6,200 successful transplants in the past 20 years.
“The Mayo Clinic transplant program has really been a leader within Mayo Clinic and within the community and I think it’s great that we can celebrate our accomplishments… but we are very much looking forward to try and continue the great work for the future,” Keaveny said.
Keaveny said finding hearts for their patients can be taxing, but they are working to help Larramore.
Meanwhile, Larramore said he wants to help spread two important messages: the first to young athletes.
“It’s more than just working out or just eating right, you have to continue to get your checkups, find out what’s going on with your body,” he said.
The second message, he said, is pretty self-explanatory: “Can a brother get a heart?”
That’s also the name of his foundation, which you can access by clicking here. He's hoping to make a difference on the First Coast.