Through his mid-20s, Lennus Hinds played professional soccer for his home country of Trinidad and Tobago but then his desire for an education brought him to the United States to study computer science. The decision probably saved his life. Although he got his associate's degree in computer science from Manchester Community College, Hinds switched to nursing, earning degrees at the State University of New York and the University of Hartford. While working as a nurse at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford in 1999, Hinds learned he had a potentially deadly heart condition. Having one child from a previous marriage and believing he was not long for life, Hinds did not want to saddle anyone else with his problems, but a woman he met in 2005 wouldn't be dissuaded and stuck by him. In September 2011, while battling pneumonia, Hinds learned his heart condition had worsened. Soon, four surgeries and the search for a new heart kept him hospitalized. "I spent seven months in the hospital. She didn't miss one day, not one day," Hinds emotionally states. "All that time I was calm. I think that what will happen will happen. You can't change it because that is how it was written," he says, reasoning that might be why he had no emotion when a nurse whispered in his ear, "I think we have a heart for you." A collaboration between St. Francis and Yale-New Haven Hospital saw the successful heart transplant on Valentine's Day 2012. "As much as these doctors and nurses were great, as they were the chain, she was the link that made it work," says Hinds, who is expecting a daughter with his partner, Judy, in March. "I'm thankful for this great country because if I was in Trinidad I would have been dead. I know that for a fact. I'm thankful for my team of angels and that includes Judy, my significant other, the team of doctors, nurses and special nurses." Hinds' daughter was a teenager during the worst of his illness and he's thankful about how she helped and handled the hardship. "Family becomes important. The prayer team, friends. I don't follow a formal religion but I believe there is a force that is much more powerful than I am that is responsible for my presence here. My wishes are that when other people have a hard time they have the same kind of support system I had. And I'm thankful for the family of the donor. I haven't yet met them, but I'm in the process of getting emotionally ready to meet them. For me to be happy I know that somebody is sad. I haven't been able to emotionally come to terms with that."
Richard Messina / Hartford Courant
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