INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – Jeremy Carr is a mechanic. Give him a broken car, lamp or appliance and the 37-year-old from the west side takes pride in being the person who can fix it.
He will find the parts and engineer a solution.
That’s why his current situation is so frustrating.
Carr’s heart is failing.
The fix, a heart transplant, is very complicated, not guaranteed to work and requires the expertise of others.
Doctors are giving Carr medicine and have hooked him up to an LVAD machine to keep him alive as he waits for a donor heart.
“I came in September 26th and I’ve been here ever since. I have three or four hearts that been offered but they have to get one that is my size,” Carr said.
So far, he’s waited more than 130 days.
His job, is to patiently follow doctor’s orders.
It’s tough for a man who prides himself on being hard-headed and knows the consequence if a match isn’t made.
“Worst case scenario is I don’t get a heart and I don’t make it too much longer,” Carr said.
So, to cope, Carr’s gotten to work.
Day by day he’s slowly transformed his second-floor corner room in the cardiovascular critical care unit at Methodist into a model car shop.
The hobby is giving him purpose.
“I’ve done it my whole life. I can do the same thing with a real car that I can do with those, so it’s kind of like I am still working here versus what I would be doing at home.”
He uses a Dremel to grind, sand and polish the plastic cars.
It sounds like a dentist’s drill, and Carr says the noise is welcome to the alternative.
“I can block all that out you know the bad stuff. I mean there are people that pass away all the time in here. There has been two people that has passed away in the next room. After hearing the family pulling the plug and making decisions, that stuff is hard to hear” Carr said.
His caregiver and mother of his two children Jennifer Johnson is happy he’s busy.
“When he’s working on a car he is relaxed. If he is just sitting in bed his mind starts going nuts” Johnson said.
Carr brought his sharpies and scissors from home, but every single model made at Methodist is customized with medical supplies.
“You have got to be creative! I mean you see things and you imagine it what can I use that for on a car?” said Carr.
The window sill in his hospital room is decorated with his work, including a 1980 Trans Am, ’57 Chevy, ’84 Cutlass and Impala’s from 1964 through 1967.
And on each model, he can point out the parts that came from a bed pan, a syringe or even a chest tube.
“I see bottom plates of cars, a hood, a trunk…of course I cut them up, paint them and made smoke stacks out of them.”
Carr is ALWAYS on the lookout for a piece of this, a part of that.
“If he doesn’t know what to do with it now, he will find out later” Johnson said.
Marianne Krueger, RN, says she has learned to count the number of supplies she has when she enters Carr’s room and when she leaves.
After injecting Carr with a blood thinner, Krueger negotiates with Carr who wants her to give him the spring in the syringe “I can use that for a bump stop for a rear end” Carr insists.
Carr’s doctor Tom Wozniak the Surgical Director of Heart and Lung Transplant at IU Health considers the hobby, therapy. “We worry about people here for months not just 100’s of days at a time. It’s a real phenomenon people become depressed they get cabin fever I would too.”
Carr says everyday he focusses on what he’ll build next. Someone sent him a helicopter model and he has plans to modify it.
“I know it looks like a military but I’m going to strip all that stuff off and it will be lifeline IU medical chopper” Carr said. “I’ll be home soon. I will get through all this. I’m not a quitter. My mom didn’t raise a quitter, so I’m hard headed very so all my family, I will be home soon.”
And when he gets home, Carr plans to build a cabinet to display his new collection. It will remind him, of the time he had to rely on a surgeon and a stranger to save his life.
Story By: Anne Marie Tiernon from WTHR.