Healthy Corning man suddenly needs heart transplant

CORNING, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - A Corning man's life transformed in just a matter of weeks from a healthy person to spending every night in a hospital bed in need of a heart transplant. 

Close ones say Loren Vinal went from an ice hockey playing guitar instructor to a full-time patient. 

In the middle of December, he was all suited up playing ice hockey at First Arena. About two weeks later on vacation in Nashville with his girlfriend Sandy Olson, everything happened so quickly.

"The very first night, this is over Christmas, we ended up in the ER, and we thought it was a breathing difficulty," Olson said. "It turned out to be heart failure."

They spent their entire vacation in the hospital which they say was meant to be because Nashville is home to one of the best cardiology hospitals in the country.

When they got home, Vinal was soon at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Within one week, doctors suspected a virus must have attacked his heart because it was so sudden and he's in great physical condition.

Now they're just playing the waiting game for the right heart which could take a week, six months, a year, or longer.

In the meantime, a GoFundMe page created by Olson's daughter is asking the community to have a heart and keep Vinal's beating. 

The response from the community has touched him. 

"There are a lot of really good people in this world and I'm not sure I always recognized that because I was always in a hurry to be here and there and this has certainly slowed me down," Vinal said. "I mean, I get choked up."

Vinal's insurance is covering most of the medical costs, but the donations will take care of expenses that aren't paid for. 

In addition to being a musician, he is also a photographer and creates websites for people - something he's been able to do in his hospital bed. He also still practices guitar, but he doesn't stay in bed for long since he brought along his golf equipment and works on his putting. He also plans on getting his master's degree when he's released. He was accepted to SUNY Empire State College before the diagnoses. 

Overall, they've remained positive and are optimistic for the future. 

"He has touched so many people's lives in so many ways that I had no idea because people are coming out of the woodwork every where and wanting to be a part of supporting him," Olson said. "It's very heartwarming. People are good. People really are good."

A benefit will take place next month to fundraise for Vinal at Corning Union Hall on March 18 from 2:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. You can find more details on the GoFundMe page here

And who knows... maybe he'll get a heart just in time for Valentine's Day.


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