Jay Toland (pictured below) is the definition of a HeartBrother. When another heart transplant candidate received the call that a heart was available, he only got to the hospital thanks to Jay.
Jay calls it his "God Shot" moment. Two weeks prior, he and fellow HeartBrother Tommy Hardiman were introduced to David as they visited heart patients at Tufts Medical Center. Jay, who lives in Sturbridge, handed David, who lives nearby in Oxford, his card and told him to call if he ever needed anything. Little did they know, David was about to need Jay in a big way.
David received the life-altering call that a heart was ready for him. At the time, he was home alone in Oxford with no way to get to the hospital. He had just gotten a new phone and didn't have any contacts saved, but he had Jay's card.
“He had my card, and that card saves lives,” said Jay.
The phone rang as Jay was sitting down to dinner. Moments later, he was on his way to drive David to Tufts. Two days later, David called again–the heart transplant was a success. "It brought tears of joy," said Jay.
Just a few months ago, Jay was the one who got the call. On April 8, 2023, doctors transplanted his new heart. Jay had suffered a heart attack in 2020, and after a year of tests, he was added to the transplant list. At the time, the staff at Tufts gave him a pamphlet about the HeartBrothers Foundation. Jay was no longer working and making the long drive from Sturbridge to Boston three times a week was financially taxing. With money tight and gas prices high, he was considering skipping some of his doctor's appointments. Then he called the HeartBrothers for help. Their financial assistance enabled Jay to continue making the three necessary trips a week into Boston for doctor appointments. “I don’t think I would have been able to follow through 100 percent and go through all the appointments without the financial assistance,” said Jay.
Prior to his transplant day, Jay’s health declined—so much so that he was forced to spend nearly 200 days at Tufts Medical Center. During that time, the HeartBrothers were there to offer any support they could. Jay’s wife was able to stay nearby at the HeartBrothers House, which provides affordable nightly accommodations for heart patients and their families. This allowed her to be close to Jay and not worry about driving back-and-forth to home or taking on the expensive cost of a downtown Boston hotel.
Later, Jay met fellow HeartBrother Tommy Hardiman. The two team-up to regularly visit heart failure patients at Tufts. "We were going every other week and they were getting overwhelmed because they were not used to having visitors because of Covid,” said Jay, laughing. It was during one of those visits Jay connected with David and passed along his card.
Jay’s commitment as a HeartBrother helped ensure David received his heart. David is now home, and when he goes into Tufts for post-transplant appointments, it is Jay who often drives.
“I promised if I got through [my transplant], this would be my new calling. I wanted to give back,” Jay said.