It's a journey that's left three men joined at their hearts.
Jerry Kern, Bobby Reighard and Danny Herbst met at Florida Hospital in Orlando while waiting for new hearts.
They have all been listed at the top of the heart transplant waiting list for months, because of the scarcity of available organs. Kern has been at the hospital for six months. Reighard has been hospitalized for nearly four months. Herbst has waited in the hospital for seven weeks.
"Everybody here is like family," said Herbst.
Living in the hospital created a tight bond among the Central Florida men, so much so, that the three became like brothers. Both Reighard and Kern retired from jobs at the postal service.
"It was nice to see them walking the halls together," said Dr. Nirav Raval, a transplant cardiologist with the Florida Hospital Transplant Institute.
The men spent their time encouraging one another. They even celebrated holidays.
"It was Halloween," said Reighard. "There was nothing going on. We made something happen. We made him a little Tin Man hat. He couldn't get out of the bed, so we pushed him down the hallway."
"We were up there for New Year's Eve fireworks," said Herbst.
"I have a lot of empathy for the patients," said Dr. Raval. "They are waiting for so long, because the fact of the matter is, that they need this and they can feel a bit powerless. They know that at any given point in time they may get a heart, but sometimes it takes a long time."
Their friendship gave each of the men strength. However, one phone call would test that relationship.
"Between the three of us, we kind of figured it would be my opportunity next because I've been here the longest."
But the hospital called Reighard.
"She says, 'Bobby, are you sitting down?' recalled Reighard.
Nine days ago, Reighard received his new heart.
"I started hearing this sound that was coming out of my chest," Reighard said. "I didn't know what in the world it was, because my heart was only working around 11 percent. All of a sudden, it's working at 70 percent. It's like putting a new motor in an old car. Everything started coming to life on me."
His buddies are thrilled for him; however, human nature did get the best of them for a minute.
"A lot of mixed emotions there," said Kern.
"I was very nervous," said Reighard.
Reighard said he only worried about whether his brothers would resent him.
"Of course I didn't," said Kern. "I prayed for him every minute that he was down there along with my wife."
"We're really, really happy for him," said Herbst. "Jerry and I are just hanging on, too."
Reighard was cleared to go home on Tuesday. The men said their goodbyes. Herbst wasn't feeling well so he couldn't make the trip to their floor. The group has faith Kern and Herbst will go home soon. They also hope more donors will allow others to get transplants, as well.
"It enables someone to continue doing good works here on Earth," said Kern.
Dr. Raval said the need for more donors has increased recently.
If you would like to help by becoming a donor, you're asked to register. Sign up by going to www.donatelifeflorida.org to sign up. You can also find more information about organ transplantation by visiting the Florida Hospital Transplant Institute website at www.fhtransplant.com.