INDIANAPOLIS — Doug Bullard's long-awaited organ transplant finally happened.
On Aug. 11, 147 days after he entered IU Health Methodist Hospital, Bullard underwent a heart and kidney transplant.
His wife told 13News reporter Rich Nye Wednesday night her husband's new heart was "working perfectly."
When you need a life-saving organ transplant, the wait can be frustrating and excruciating even as your body weakens.
Now imagine being stuck in the hospital for months just waiting for your turn.
Doug Bullard was admitted to IU Health Methodist Hospital March 17 to wait for a heart and kidney transplant.
Bullard stays positive and maintains his health with walks around the Advanced Heart Care unit on the 5th floor.
"I do 25 laps four times a day,” said Bullard, walking and pushing a rolling heart monitor and IV pole that pumps medicine directly to his damaged heart. "People watch me walk and they're just so happy to see me walking. They give me thumbs up all the time. Keep up the good work."
Bullard heads down one level for more laps on the fourth floor Cardiac Medical Critical Care unit, where his hospital stay began.
"He's kind of famous around here and on the fourth floor, and outside, and everywhere,” said Kim Baker, Clinical Operations Manager of the Advanced Heart Care unit. “He's made some friends while he's been here."
Bullard walks 5 to 7 miles a day, taking the last laps on his damaged heart. He suffered a heart attack in 1999.
Combined with congenital heart problems, doctors put him in the hospital 93 days ago to wait for a heart and kidney transplant. He will receive both organs from the same donor.
“I feel bad for the family,” said Bullard. “But at the same time, they're giving someone else another chance to live.”
After a long walk, Bullard likes to go out to the courtyard at Methodist Hospital and sunbathe. He might even take a nap. He has developed a dark tan this summer despite being confined to the hospital.
About a month ago, Doug's wife, Julie, wrote a message that reads “Bench Reserved for Doug” on the courtyard wall in chalk above the bench where Doug sits outside.
“It's more freedom,” said Bullard. “I can come out here and relax and you know, people come up to me and talk to me."
“He's just been so gracious and patient, and just so strong through the whole thing,” said Julie.
"He really tries to stay optimistic and look forward to knowing that eventually that day is going to come,” said Carly Wenzel, Methodist Hospital Nurse Practitioner for the Advanced Health Failure team. “He makes everyone smile."
Bullard is now status two on the heart transplant wait list.
"I cannot wait, and I was told it could happen tomorrow or up to two weeks,” said Bullard.
Until then, he'll keep walking, looking forward to eventually walking out of Methodist Hospital with new life.