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Alaska man misses heart transplant surgery after winter storm cancels his flight to Seattle

“I think I cried more that day than I have in my life,” said Patrick Holland, who is battling congestive heart failure.
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In the span of eight hours, Patrick Holland went from excitement to hope to crushing disappointment after a massive winter storm caused him to miss a lifesaving heart transplant procedure.

Holland, a father of 7 who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, is battling congestive heart failure. After a year of waiting, he was added to the transplant list on Dec. 5, his wife Haley Holland posted on a Facebook page chronicling his journey. She said he had a flight booked to Seattle, where the surgery would take place, but they were waiting for a call from doctors at the Heart Institute at UW Medical Center at Montlake to tell them that a heart was available.

They received that call last Thursday, the same day parts of the country were being hammered by a deadly winter storm.

Patrick Holland, who is in his late 50s, told NBC affiliate King 5 of Seattle that doctors gave him an 8-hour window to get from Fairbanks to the hospital. He immediately headed to the airport only to learn that his Alaska Airlines flight had been canceled because of the bad weather in Seattle.

After hearing his story, the airline immediately put him on the next flight. Patrick Holland told the news station that he was in the air for four hours when the pilot made an announcement: the plane was being diverted to Anchorage.

While in Anchorage, three of his flights were canceled and the 8-hour window closed.

"I think I cried more that day than I have in my life," he told King 5.

His wife said in a Facebook post that because so many flights travel between Fairbanks and Seattle, they didn't think getting to the hospital in time would be an issue. Missing the opportunity to have the surgery has been devastating, she said.

"Numerous times his hopes and dreams were lifted to astounding heights, and then left to tumble down to the lowest depths of nightmarish proportions, often in the blink of an eye," Haley Holland posted.

She said the family is still hoping they will get another call that doctors have found a heart. In the meantime, Patrick Holland will be staying in Washington state so he is closer to the hospital.

Patrick Holland told King 5 that receiving a new heart would hopefully give him the opportunity to live another 10, 20, or even 30 years.

"I can't wait for the day to where I get the transplant and I can enjoy life again," he said.