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The Beat Goes on for First Peoria Heart Transplant Recipient

Doris Thomas is celebrating the 30th anniversary of her heart transplant Thursday. The 85 year-old was the first person to undergo the surgery at OSF St Francis Medical Center in Peoria in 1987.

She is one of few heart transplant patients to survive from the 1980’s. Thomas celebrated the milestone during an office visit and reunion with her transplant team.

One of her two transplant surgeons, retired Dr. Fred Hoy says Thomas’s procedure was a "lucky match." He says, "it’s unusual to have a transplant match last this long."

Doris Thomas says she still doesn’t know the identity of her donor’s family. “I’ll be forever grateful to that family for donating their daughter’s heart to me because it enabled me to live 30 more years that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. So I hope that that family will see this.”  Thomas says her heart came from the Rockford area after a family lost their daughter in a car accident.

The Marseilles resident turns 86 in next month. Thomas has five children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Thomas is originally from Wales and has also survived two bouts of cancer since her heart transplant.

Heart transplants are no long preformed in Peoria but Heart Care Midwest maintains a full transplant services team.   

April is organ donor month. Thomas says she’s proof organ donors give the gift of life.