Formerly From South Sioux City, Nebraska
From South Sioux City Nebraska and former Houston Cougars coach Joe Curl needs a heart transplant. Doctors say Joe Curl, former University of Houston women's basketball head coach, needs a heart transplant. In fact, "a heart transplant is critical to his survival, and he was recently added to the transplant waiting list."
Joe Curl needs a Heart Transplant
What Is a Heart Transplant?
A heart transplant is surgery to remove a person's diseased heart and replace it with a healthy heart from a deceased donor. Most heart transplants are done on patients who have end-stage
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is damaged or weak. As a result, it can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. "End-stage" means the condition is so severe that all treatments, other than a heart transplant, have failed.
Heart transplants are done as a life-saving measure for end-stage heart failure.
Because donor hearts are in short supply, patients who need heart transplants go through a careful selection process. They must be sick enough to need a new heart, yet healthy enough to receive it.
Survival rates for people receiving heart transplants have improved, especially in the first year after the transplant.
After the surgery, most heart transplant patients can return to their normal levels of activity.
In 2007, Joe suffered a massive heart attack and was diagnosed with end-stage heart disease. Sadly heart disease runs rampant in his family, as his father, mother, two brothers and a sister passed away from heart failure. Doctors say a heart transplant is critical to his survival, and he was recently added to the transplant waiting list.
This former college basketball coach has always been a hard worker, and battling this illness now prevents him from doing so many things for himself, which has been a difficult adjustment. Because of his declining health, Joe is unable enjoy some of his favorite activities such as working in the yard or playing golf.
Joe dreams of having a sense of normalcy back in his life, and he looks forward to returning to the court to play and coach again. He and his wife, Lesa, have two daughters and a young grandson, Maverick. More than anything, Joe wants to spend many years watching Maverick grow up and hopes to pass on his love of basketball to another generation. But he needs your help.
A heart transplant costs approximately $750,000. And that's only the beginning. Even with health coverage, he faces considerable medical expenses related to his transplant. For the rest of his life, he will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications. The cost of his post-transplant medications can range from $2,000 to $5,000 per month--and they are as critical to his survival as the transplant itself.
Thank you for your generosity!
Copyright @ 2012 Joe Curl Heart Transplant Fund. All rights reserved.
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Watch Jan 18, 2013 story about Joe Curl by Mark Berman Sports Director Fox 26 Houston by clicking photo
UH's Curl knows wait for heart a life-or-death issue
By Joseph Duarte
All Joe Curl can do is wait.
Any day now, he hopes, the phone will ring with news that a new heart is on the
"I'm either going to be here and receive a heart and live, or I'm going to die," Curl,
the winningest women's basketball coach in University of Houston history, said
recently from his room in the cardiac care unit at Methodist Hospital. "It's not a
game. That's the cold fact of it."
Curl, 58, has been in need of a new heart since "being on death's doorstep," as he
puts it, after suffering a heart attack on a recruiting trip in 2007. He was diagnosed
with end-stage heart disease, the same condition that claimed the lives of his father,
mother, two brothers and sister.
Curl briefly returned to coaching, but recurring heart problems - two cardiologists
told him he could no longer fly - forced him to retire in 2010.
On New Year's Eve, Curl was readmitted to the hospital, where he remained until
being discharged Thursday. He's been given 1B status - the second-highest priority
for a heart transplant.
Heart recipients who visited Curl during his hospital stay told him the wait could be
weeks, a few months, a year or longer. Also making a match more difficult: Curl is 6
"There still can be no time put on that; there is no timeframe on it," his oldest
daughter, Angela Curl-Okafor, said. "That's what makes it difficult."
For now, Curl can only wait.
Former Houston women's basketball coach Joe Curl suffered a heart attack in 2007.
He spends his days watching TV, keeping tabs on the UH women's program and
spending time with his wife, Lesa, two daughters, Angela and Jennifer, and his 3-
year-old grandson, Maverick.
Changing speeds hard
It's a slower schedule than he was used to during his 20-year collegiate coaching
career, which included the last 12 seasons at UH. He won 193 games at UH and led
the Cougars to five postseason appearances. In 2003-04, Curl's Cougars won a
school-record 28 games, the Conference USA title and advanced to the second round
of the NCAA Tournament.
"I went 100 miles an hour for 30-something years coaching," Curl said. "To go from
100 mph to zero has been the toughest thing I've ever done in my life. What I'm
going through, as we speak right now, is the toughest thing I've ever gone through
in my life. The being in the hospital, not knowing what tomorrow brings tonight, a
half hour from now, whether I'll get a heart, whether I won't get one."
One of the biggest adjustments for Curl, his family said, has been being away from
home. He's been in and out of the hospital during the past year. During his recent
hospital stay, framed photos of his family were placed on a bookshelf close to his
bed. One photo showed the large pit in which he famously cooked barbecue at
football games and team functions.
"He misses home and wants to be home," Angela said. "It's been hard and
So have the mounting medical bills. A heart transplant costs about $750,000. Even
with health coverage, the cost for post-transplant care and medication will range
from $2,000-$5,000 per month, according to estimates on the website
Medical bills mounting
To offset some costs, Curl and his wife moved out of the family's Seabrook home in
November and into a two-bedroom apartment closer to his daughters and the
hospital. The constant need for medication and care has exhausted the Curls'
"They couldn't afford it anymore," Angela said. "The medical bills have been
Some days have been good, but "there's been plenty of bad ones, too," Curl said.
"(My family) has seen the good sides and the bad sides, the crying and the
depression," Curl said before pausing, the only noise in the room a monitor beeping
every few minutes. "They have seen all those cycles and all those sides, and there's a
part of me that just wants to fight like crazy. But they see the other side where you
are so close to saying, 'what's the use?' You fight and fight and you seem like you're
not getting any momentum. With the care of your family and doctors, I can see
At the same time, Curl said it's "incomprehensible" to fully understand what comes
with a transplant.
Understands other side
"It's tough because you pray for a heart, but then you know what comes with that,"
Jennifer Curl said. "You don't want to pray for somebody else to have to go through
what we're not wanting to go through."
Until then, all Curl and his family can do is wait.
"That would be the most wonderful day of my life because I know that's what he wants
so badly," Lesa Curl, choking back tears, said of a heart becoming available. "I
have struggled with this a lot because I have seen him struggle so badly. It's like I
will pray for God to just take him because it hurts so badly to see him like that.
"So if we got that call, I don't think there could be a happier person on this earth
than I would be at that moment. I don't know if I could get here fast enough,
because I would want to be here before they took him in."
How to help
There are several ways for those interested in making a contribution to offset some of
the medical costs for former University of Houston women's basketball coach Joe Curl:
1 Checks, along with a form that can be found on the website
joecurlhearttransplant.com, can be mailed to:
Donation Fund Joe Curl
c/o Wells Fargo Bank
1600 Highway 146
Seabrook, Texas 77586
1 Donations can be made by taking the printable form to any Wells Fargo location.
1 Donations also can be made to the National Heart Transplant Foundation
For more information, visit joecurlhearttransplant.com
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