Organs needed: You could save a life
ART: RENEE TANNER/NEWS-REVIEW (ART: RENEE TANNER/NEWS-REVIEW / April 19, 2013)
Tina, 32, and her husband Mike, 31, have been together for 12 years. The Boyne City couple has three children -- sons, Tristan, 5, and Griffin, 8 months, and a daughter, Piper, 4.
"Mike and I are best friends and our kids are amazing," she says.
"We're just normal, hard working people -- we work, pay taxes and recycle. But like most Americans we live paycheck to paycheck and work hard to make ends meet."
But now, making ends meet is even more difficult. And the Steads are looking to the future, hopeful, but unsure of what is to come.
Mike needs a new heart.
In January, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He's hoping to get a spot on the heart transplant list, and in the meantime, he's unable to work and Tina must stay home to care for him and their children.
"Mike is one of those people that never gets sick," Stead said.
"Back in December, he wasn't feeling well. Both he and our oldest son were sick and tested positive for the flu and Mike just never really recovered."
Mike tried to fight through, continuing to go to work as a marine mechanic. But the illness just became too much.
On Jan. 24, Tina got a call that Mike was being taken to the hospital by ambulance.
There, he was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia, his lungs completely full of fluid.
"They pumped him full of fluids and were able to see that his heart was working at just 15 percent and had heart failure," Stead recalled. "It was the pneumonia that saved his life."
Doctors told Stead that while Mike was a hard worker -- physically active with chores such as chopping wood and shoveling snow -- that was the extent of his exercise. Because of this, Mike didn't know what it really felt like to run on empty, why he never felt his heart wasn't functioning properly.
"There were other warning signs we missed, too," Stead said. "Mike's fingernails have extreme white patches. There were some other things that you think back on and you realize they were missed symptoms."
Stead was transferred to the intensive care unit and was on life support for eight days. While there, he also suffered a stroke, and Tina didn't know if her husband was going to make it.
"In an instant, our life changed" she said. "I didn't know what I was going to do. It's hard to think about."
After two weeks at McLaren Northern Michigan, Mike returned home after receiving a pacemaker and being put on a very restrictive fluid and sodium diet.