On average, the human heart beats 100,000 times a day. For Bakersfield's Roger Allred, every one of his beats is the driving force behind his large family of 9 children and 17 grandchildren. But last spring, Allred's doctor told him his beat would stop soon due to a 13-year battle with heart disease.
"He said you are dying and we need to get you stabilized and get you into the heart transplant program," said Allred.
On April first, Roger was admitted to the hospital. On April 18th, he received a new heart from an anonymous donor.
"All I know is it was a 22-year-old male from Northern California," said Allred of his heart donor.
After the life-saving transplant, Roger's family made a video. His wife, 9 kids, their spouses, and his 17 grandkids shared how their lives were also saved on April 18th thanks to the new heart beating in Allred's chest.
In the video they pass a cut out heart while stating what they can still do thanks to the donor heart.
"I received a heart on April 18th and now my grandpa can still poke at me," says one of Allred's granddaughters.
"I received a heart on April 18th which means my husband and I can grow old together," said Allred's wife in the video.
"When I think about it, I get emotional because it was so special," said Allred of the video. "You know, I know my family loves me but that was special for them to go out of their way to do that it was very very very special."
"It's fabulous," said Roger's wife, Sue Allred. "I can't even describe, having goals and having things to look forward to is a wonderful thing."
Speaking of goals, Roger decided he wasn't just going to survive, he was going to live.
To show what a blessing his new heart and organ donation is, he decided to do something he thought he'd never be able to do again.
"I had climbed Mt. Whitney twice prior to my heart condition and the last time," Allred choked back tears, "I took my oldest son and I have three sons and I planned on taking them all because I thought it was such a great experience."
Less than 16 months after receiving a heart, Roger, his sons, wife, and 4 others set out to conquer the highest peak in the lower United States. Enduring hailstorms, steep climbs, and rough terrain, they made it 60 miles to the top. It was a symbolic summit that's still emotional for Roger.
"This is what I did," said Allred, crying. "You know, when you accomplish a goal, it's a wonderful feeling. But when that goal is something you never, never thought you were going to be able to do it makes it even more special. And then when you realize that other people are what made that possible it makes it so special. So, I was so grateful."
"Having all of us make it was another blessing on top of this whole process," said Allred's son-in-law, Brian Skinner.
That gratitude is why Allred's family made this video, to say thank you to the family of the donor they'll never know, for not only saving his life, but for keeping Roger in theirs.
"The decision to donate an organ can not change just one life but many lives," said Roger.
Roger says at the age of 60, he feels like he's 40 again. He hopes his story encourages more people to chose organ donation. His next goal is to hike the Inca trail in Peru with his family.