Junction City mayor celebrates his heart transplant's 15th anniversary

November 10, 2003|LIZ MAPLES

Junction City Mayor G.G. Harmon celebrated the 15th anniversary of his heart transplant Sunday.

"It's still ticking," he said.

At the time of the transplant, doctors gave him a 50-50 chance that he would live 1-5 more years. Harmon said that he predicted when he got the heart that he would live another 20 years.

Before he got the heart doctors had given him 24 hours to live.

Harmon, who was heavily involved in law enforcement and fire fighting, had worked his heart to near death, literally. He had an enlarged heart caused by stress.

"I just worked too many hours," he said.

He can remember routinely working for 20 hours straight, sleeping for a few and then getting back up to work some more. By his heart's end, it was pumping at 7 percent of its capacity.


In August 1986, Harmon first began to have trouble. By April the next year he was in a Lexington hospital. Doctors sent him home to wait for a transplant.

Although Harmon was told not to even lift a textbook, he decided to drive the tractor for Railroad Days that year.

In November 1988, 30 minutes after George H.W. Bush was elected president, Harmon learned he had a donor. He would have the heart of a 30-year old construction worker from Columbus, Ohio.

The man died after he was hit in the head with a pool stick.

The heart has served him well. He has had five rejections, but all have been mild. Every day, twice a day he takes anti-rejection medicine.

It has bought him 15 years. Time to be with his mother when she got ill and to be with her when she died. Time to help WDFB, a local Christian radio station. Time to serve on the City Council and as mayor of Junction City.

Harmon said that if he doesn't live another day, he would be satisfied that he had a longer time with his family and was able to serve his community.

"If they asked me if I'd go for a third one I'd say, 'Sure, if they'd give it to me."

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