Chuck Forbes has battled liver disease for half of his 59 years. When the time finally came for a transplant, a blizzard blocked his route to the hospital — until a corps of snowplow drivers saved the day.
Forbes was recovering after undergoing transplant surgery Sunday at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver. He and his wife, Ruth, made it there from their home in northwest Wyoming despite the storm that closed roads Saturday in the southeastern part of the state.
"I hope those WYDOT (Wyoming Department of Transportation) guys know they performed a miracle," Ruth Forbes said.
She said her husband had been on a transplant waiting list for about a year when "we got a surprise call totally out of the blue at 7:30 on Saturday morning."
They had already made it all the way to Wheatland, some 250 miles southeast of their home in Meeteetse, when they encountered a road-closing barrier Saturday afternoon. A bit panicked, Ruth Forbes called 911.
"The operator said 'The road is closed, we've been forecasting this storm all week,'" she said. "Then she said 'Hang on, I'll get a patrolman to come talk to you.'"
Trooper Chuck Bloom arrived, talked to the couple and then returned to his patrol car.
"He came back to our car and said, 'If you wait right here, the area boss for WYDOT will be right here,'" Ruth Forbes said. "In a matter of 10 minutes, we had a convoy of plow trucks."
The couple followed nearly on the bumper of a plow truck from Wheatland in whiteout conditions.
Other trucks joined their caravan to plow a wider path.
In Cheyenne, one plow led them through the city. South of the city, another snowplow driver got them to the state line.
In all, the escort involved eight snowplows and covered some 80 miles.
They made it to the hospital at about 9:30 p.m. Chuck Forbes underwent his transplant at 7 a.m. Sunday.
"He is having a heck of a time getting out of the anesthesia, but they say that's normal because of all of the meds he's on," his wife said. "But the transplant went wonderfully."