Larry Smith has always been an active person. He is a hard worker, a husband, an actor, and is in desperate need of a heart transplant.
The 63-year-old battled Rheumatic Fever as a child which doctors say may have led to the heart disease he began dealing with nine years ago.
“One younger doctor told me he had never seen a heart in worse shape than mine,” said Larry, who recently filmed as an extra in an upcoming movie starring Nicholas Cage.
Larry, who owned and operated Express Printing in Galion for 17 years before selling the business to A-1 Printing, said he was rarely sick since that bout with Rheumatic Fever when he was 10-years-old.
“Until nine years ago, I was fine. I worked at ArcelorMittal in Shelby and noticed one day it was hard for me to walk, I was short of breath. I went to the doctor and he immediately put me in the hospital for more testing,” Larry said.
Larry was diagnosed at that point with dilated cardiomyopathy.
Since then, Larry has been taken by medical helicopter to the Cleveland Clinic on numerous occasions and had surgery to install a Heartware left ventricle assist device under his heart to help prevent heart failure.
Larry is currently awaiting a heart transplant through the Cleveland Clinic.
“A heart has to become available that is for my body type and blood type. For example, a heart from a large, tall man would not fit into my body so I have to wait until one becomes available that will fit with my body type,” Larry said.
Smith’s wife, Jackie, said when a heart does become available, she will have two short hours to get her husband to the hospital in Cleveland.
“We have an hour and a half drive, without rush hour traffic. We are also worried about the political convention in Cleveland this summer. If a heart becomes available when there will a lot of traffic, we can fly him there by plane or helicopter but I will have to pay for it if there is no immediate medical emergency,” Jackie said.
Jackie said the cost will be between $8000 and $10,000 for the trip.
Friends of the Smiths are stepping to help the couple with medical expenses not paid for by insurance.
“Larry and Jackie are the nicest people and great parishioners at our church. We want to do what we can to help them out,” said Nancy Welch.
Welch and others, including Welch’s daughter, are organizing a benefit that will be held at their church, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Galion, immediately following 10:30 a.m. mass on May 1.
“We will have live music, food and a silent auction. The benefit will be held in the activity center, directly across from the church,” Welch said.
Jackie said the couple’s niece, Stacy Biglin, has also set up a GoFundMe account at https://www.gofundme.com/pauy3b78 and an account has been set up at Galion Building and Loan, Larry Smith’s Heart Fund.
Larry said he hopes to act and direct again in area theaters such as Bucyrus Little Theatre, Galion Community Theatre, Mansfield Playhouse and Crawford County Theatre, as he has in the past.
“I would like to work again if possible,” said Smith, who returned to work two times throughout his battle with heart disease until he could no longer work in 2014.
Jackie said the outpouring of support and generosity from the community has been overwhelming.
“People have been so sweet and supportive of us and we appreciate it so very much,” said Jackie.
Jackie and Larry said their faith in God is carrying them through this challenging time in their lives.
For more information about the benefit, contact Nancy Welch at 419-419-946-2277.